Tour of Flanders for Women
|Local name(s)||Ronde van Vlaanderen voor Vrouwen (in Dutch)|
|Competition||UCI Women's World Tour (since 2016)|
|Editions||15 (as of 2018)|
|First winner||Zoulfia Zabirova (RUS)|
Mirjam Melchers-van Poppel (NED)|
Judith Arndt (GER)
|Most recent||Anna van der Breggen (NED)|
The Tour of Flanders for Women (Dutch: Ronde van Vlaanderen voor Vrouwen) is the women's edition of the Tour of Flanders, an annual road bicycle racing event in Flanders, Belgium, held in early April. It is held on the same day as the men's race, on much of the same roads but at a shorter distance. Dutch rider Mirjam Melchers and German Judith Arndt hold the record with two wins. Dutch rider Anna van der Breggen won the most recent race in 2018.
The event has been held annually since 2004 on the same day as the men's race. From 2004 to 2015 it was part of the UCI Women's Road World Cup. Since 2016, the race is included in the UCI Women's World Tour, cycling's top-tier female elite competition. Since the first edition, organisers have included more climbs and extended the race gradually from 94 km in the first edition to 153 km in 2017.
The first race
The first running of the Tour of Flanders for Women was held on 4 April 2004. The race was 94 km long, making it the shortest in history, and featured nine categorized climbs, including the Muur van Geraardsbergen and Bosberg as the last two climbs. The race started in Oudenaarde and finished in Ninove, with the last 55 km identical to the men's race. Russia's Zoulfia Zabirova won the inaugural event with an attack on the Muur and crossed the finish solo. Trixi Worrack beat Leontien van Moorsel in a sprint for second place..
Farce in 2005
The second Tour of Flanders in 2005 was extended to 112 km, featuring 12 climbs. Dutch rider Mirjam Melchers-van Poppel won the race, after distancing her teammate and breakaway companion Susanne Ljungskog in the final kilometer. The race for third place ended in farcical circumstances. A group of 20 riders was sent the wrong way in the final two kilometres and crossed the finish line in the opposite direction. All riders in the group, including World Cup leader Oenone Wood, were disqualified from the race. Melchers repeated her win in 2006, becoming the first to win the race twice.
By 2009, the race ran over 131 km and contained three long flat cobbled sectors in addition to the climbs. German sprinter Ina-Yoko Teutenberg won the event in a sprint of a 15-strong group ahead of Kirsten Wild and Emma Johansson. The first and only Belgian rider to win the Tour of Flanders was Grace Verbeke in 2010 after she narrowly stayed ahead of the chasing group.
Move to Oudenaarde
In 2012 the finish of both the men's and women's events moved to Oudenaarde, making Oudenaarde both the start and finish location of the women's race. The Oude Kwaremont and Paterberg replaced the Muur van Geraardsbergen and Bosberg as the final two climbs of the race. German Judith Arndt became the second woman to win the Tour of Flanders on two separate occasions. As she did in her first win in 2008, Arndt beat American Kristin Armstrong in a two-up sprint.
Cycling greatness Marianne Vos won the 2013 event, following three previous podium places, in a four-woman sprint ahead of Ellen van Dijk and Emma Johansson, after the quartet had gotten away on Oude Kwaremont. Van Dijk soloed to victory in 2014 with a move on the Hotond climb, at 26 km from the finish, and held a winning margin of more than one minute over Lizzie Armitstead and Emma Johansson. Elisa Longo Borghini was the first Italian winner in 2015 with an attack at 30 km from the finish. Jolien D'Hoore won the sprint for second before Anna van der Breggen.
World Tour Race
In 2016 the Tour of Flanders was included in the inaugural UCI Women's World Tour. Britain's Lizzie Armitstead won the race in a two-up sprint with Emma Johansson after the duo had broken clear on Oude Kwaremont. Sweden's Emma Johansson holds a joint record of four podium finishes, but failed to claim a Tour of Flanders victory.[n 1]
The 2017 event was the first run under the new UCI regulations, which allowed for longer women's races. The route was extended to 153.2 km, featuring 12 climbs and five flat sectors of cobbles. After a six-year hiatus, organisers brought back the Muur van Geraardsbergen, as they had done for the men. Coryn Rivera became the first American winner in an 18-strong sprint before Gracie Elvin and Chantal Blaak.
In 2018 the Tour of Flanders was the first women's event to be broadcast in full live on television. Olympic road race champion Anna van der Breggen won the race after a 28 km solo attack on the Kruisberg. She increased her lead over the Oude Kwaremont and Paterberg and maintained her effort to the finish. Amy Pieters was second at more than a minute from van der Breggen, the largest winning margin in the women’s Tour of Flanders history.
Since 2012 the race starts and finishes in Oudenaarde. It is 153 km and has a similar finale as the men's Tour of Flanders, with many of the same hills, except for the Koppenberg. The first 90 km wind through the hills of the Zwalm region, before addressing the climbs in the Flemish Ardennes between Geraardsbergen and Oudenaarde in the last 60 km. The final 60 km contain the most iconic climbs, notably the Muur van Geraardsbergen, Oude Kwaremont and Paterberg. The course runs almost entirely in the province of East Flanders. Since 2017, eight kilometres of the trajectory between Geraardsbergen and Ronse run over roads in the Walloon province of Hainaut.
Climbs and cobbled roads
The short, sharp hills in the Flemish Ardennes are a defining feature of the Tour of Flanders and the locations where spectators gather in large numbers. Each climb has its own characteristics with varying gradients and surface, presenting different challenges to the riders. The Kwaremont is 2.2 km long with an uneven cobbled surface, but is relatively shallow in gradient. The Paterberg is short and, at 20 percent, the steepest climb of the women's race.
In 2017 and 2018, the race featured 12 climbs, compared to 18 in the men's event, and five long flat cobbled sectors. The final 31 km, including Kruisberg, Oude Kwaremont and Paterberg, are identical to the men's finale. In addition to the climbs, there are five flat sectors of cobbles in the first half of the race, i.e. Langemunte, Lippenhovestraat, Paddestraat, Holleweg and Haaghoek, comprising 7.8 km of cobbles.
|7||Muur van Geraardsbergen||93.9||59.3||cobbles||1075||9.3%||19.8%|
|2||Mirjam Melchers-van Poppel (NED)||2005, 2006|
|Judith Arndt (GER)||2008, 2012|
Wins per country
|1||Belgium, Italy, Russia, United States|
- Shortest Tour of Flanders: 94 km (2004)
- Longest Tour of Flanders: 153.2 km (2017 and 2018)
- Most wins: Mirjam Melchers and Judith Arndt (2)
- Most podium finishes: Marianne Vos and Emma Johansson (4)
- Most second places: Kristin Armstrong (2)
- Youngest winner: Elisa Longo Borghini in 2015 (23 years and 116 days)
- Oldest winner: Judith Arndt in 2012 (35 years and 251 days)
- Largest margin between the winner and runner-up: 1 minute and 8 seconds (Anna van der Breggen in 2018)
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