Wiggle High5 Pro Cycling’s Jolien D’hoore will be wearing her Belgian Champion’s jersey with pride in Sunday’s Gent-Wevelgem - In Flanders Fields, which will be the next round of the Women’s WorldTour. The event is one of the big events of the Spring Classics season, and has been named in tribute to those that fell in the region in the First World War; D’hoore will be also racing in tribute to others this weekend, however, after the horrific events in the Belgian capital on Tuesday.
“I want to pay tribute to what happened in Brussels,” the Belgian Champion said. “Riding in the Belgian jersey makes me proud and sad at the same time. I hope to give the Belgian people something to smile about this weekend.”
D’hoore has ridden a limited road programme so far this season, after having concentrated on the track throughout the winter in preparation for the Olympic Games. She took her first podium of the year on Wednesday’s Dwars door Vlaanderen, behind Wiggle High5 Pro Cycling teammate Amy Pieters, and can feel the form returning that saw her win more races than any other rider in 2015.
“Wednesday I felt really good but due to a mechanical problem on the Kwaremont I missed the front group,” D’hoore explained. “In the end it was good we won with the team. But I couldn't really show anything.
“So I'm really looking forward to Sunday,” she added. “I want to show I'm back in the game.”
The women’s Gent-Wevelgem race starts in the city of Ypres, which was the centre of so much destruction in the Great War, before heading towards the hill zone close the French border. Like the men’s race, the chief obstacle will be the Kemmelberg, whose cobbled slopes - both up and downhill - will be tackled twice by the women, before the flat run into Wevelgem.
Last year’s was run under the kind of epic weather that saw many people call for the men’s WorldTour race to be neutralised or cancelled. Despite the conditions, Wiggle High5 Pro Cycling’s (then Wiggle Honda) Chloe Hosking finished in third place, with D’hoore taking fourth.
“Gent-Wevelgem was epic last year,” D’hoore laughed. “Some really hard weather conditions made it a hard race. The weather forecast predicts the same for this weekend. So once again, being WorldTour now, it will be a tough battle between the war fields.”
D’hoore will be joined in the Gent-Wevelgem team by Dwars door Vlaanderen winner Pieters, while Hosking - whose partnership on the road with D’hoore last year proved so successful - will return to the race where she made the podium last year.
After her fourth place in last weekend’s Trofeo Alfredo Binda, Swedish Champion Emma Johansson returns to the WorldTour, along with Italian Elisa Longo Borghini, who has recovered from the illness that saw her sit out her home race.
The Wiggle High5 Pro Cycling team will be completed by Olympic Champion Dani King, whose powerful riding on Wednesday set up her teammates for their one-two finish.
Wiggle High5 Pro Cycling team for Gent-Wevelgem
Jolien D’hoore (Belgium), Chloe Hosking (Australia), Emma Johansson (Sweden), Dani King (Great Britain),Elisa Longo Borghini (Italy), Amy Pieters (Netherlands)