Gracie Elvin gets amongst the sprint on a nervous day at Gent-Wevelgem

Sun 31 Mar 2019

Australian Gracie Elvin got in the mix in the sprint finale at Gent-Wevelgem after a nervous day of racing in Belgium.

Mitchelton-SCOTT put in a strong display throughout the race to closedown attacks over the climbs and on the flat roads as the race came down to a sprint finish.

Nervous Start

As the race got underway and the peloton rolled out of Ieper there was a crash in the bunch that unfortunately claimed Jess Allen, with the Australian being forced to abandon less than five kilometres into the race.

The early crash made for a nervous start to the race, with no attacks coming inside the opening 50 kilometres of racing. However, the pace was still high enough for several riders to be distanced as the race approached the Kemmelberg.

Disaster struck Sarah Roy at the foot of the climb when she was forced to up unclip and was distanced. Meanwhile triple Tour Down Under champion Amanda Spratt was to the fore and looking comfortable on the slopes.

Fast Finish

Roy managed to get back onto the bunch as the race passed over a number of off-road sections before the tempo dropped as the peloton moved back onto normal roads and the attacks began.

As the Kemmelberg approached once more, Mitchelton-SCOTT hit the front of the bunch to reel back a solo attacker. Further attacks came over the final climb of the day, but Spratt was again alert to the moves and nothing could stick.

With all the climbs dealt with, several riders tried their luck on the run to Wevelgem but Mitchelton-SCOTT worked well to mark the moves. With nothing sticking it was all set for a sprint finale and it was De Panne winner Kirsten Wild (WNT-Rotor Pro Cycling) who took the day, with Elvin having to settle for a place outside the top 30.

Gracie Elvin:
"It was a nervous day, I think everyone was expecting some crosswinds so everyone wanted to be at the front just in case and unfortunately we lost Jess early in a crash and there were quite a few crashed today."

"We had some good rides from the whole team, everyone stuck to the plan and their jobs and I was really well protected all day going over the climbs and through the crosswind sections."

"In the last 20 kilometres we were hoping it was going to split up a little bit more that it did, but the wind just wasn’t quite right today and it was coming into a headwind for the sprint."

"Even though I was feeling good and had good support, I just couldn’t quite finish it off today with a crazy messy sprint in the end."   

Martin Vestby (Sports Director):
“We had hoped to at least make the peloton smaller and the girls rode well together, we had the numbers there when we needed them over the climbs.”

“We were expecting some wind in final 20 kilometres but it turned a little bit so we had too much headwind in the end for anyone to be able to split it.”

“So, in the end we got a big bunch kick and that’s not really in our favour, we tried a sneaky move at the end with Roy but it didn’t come to anything unfortunately.”

Gent-Wevelgem Results:
1.Kirsten Wild (WNT Rotor Pro Cycling Team) 3:33:34
2. Lorena Wiebes (Parkhotel Valkenburg) ST
33. Gracie Elvin (Mitchelton-SCOTT) ST

Photos courtesy of Getty Images.