So far into the season, Coryn Rivera (Team Sunweb) is the breakthrough rider of the year. After a somewhat surprising victory at Trofeo Binda, the American cyclist is now the winner of the 2017 edition of the Ronde van Vlaanderen. She wasn’t the strongest rider of the race, but great teamwork and questionable tactics by some of her rivals played in her advantage. Her superb sprinting skills made the rest.
Depending on the viewer, one could say that the finish of this edition of the De Ronde was an exciting nail biter or an anticlimax, considering that the strongest riders who made the race didn’t get the result they expected. Anna van der Breggen (Boels-Dolmans), Elisa Longo Borghini (Wiggle-High5), Kasia Niewiadoma (WM3) and Annemiek van Vleuten (Orica-Scott) were a league above the rest, but they were eventually caught 1 km before the finish by a 15-rider group. How did it happen?
After a few individual attacks an a first selection made by the Kapelmuur, the first fireworks happened on the Kanarieberg, some 40 km from the finish. It was Niewiadoma who attacked first. The race never stopped from that point and it was a few minutes later when Van der Breggen accelerated near the top of the Kruisberg. Only Longo Borghini, Van Vleuten and Niewiadoma were able to follow.
Their time gap just before the Oude Kwaremont was slim, but it grew again, especially as Van der Breggen acceletared again before taking the road to the Paterberg. At the top of the short, steep climb it looked like the race was over for the chasers. Van der Breggen and Longo Borghini were the strongest at that point, but Niewiadoma and Van Vleuten managed not to be dropped.
However, in a questionable decision, Van der Breggen stopped working as Boels-Dolmans had three riders in the chasing group. So it was only three out of the four riders who took turns on the way back to Oudenaarde. Canyon//SRAM and Sunweb gave it all to reduce the gap, and caught them just 1 km before the finish. It was going to be a 19-rider sprint. Boels-Dolmans prepared the lead out for Chantal Blaak, but Coryn Rivera and Gracie Elvin (Orica-Scott) were faster, leaving the Dutch team empty handed in the end.