Swinkels fourth in chaotic edition of Gent-Wevelgem
Karlijn Swinkels crossed the line in fourth place at the end of a chaotic Gent-Wevelgem. Team Jumbo-Visma was ready to play an important role in the final, until an array of crashes disrupted the original plans. Marlen Reusser won the race solo.
The race exploded in the hilly zone. Anna Henderson and Teuntje Beekhuis were able to stay near the front during the first passage of the Kemmelberg and rode up with the best. Then the tempo dropped for a while and some teammates were able to return. Unfortunately, Henderson and Beekhuis were then involved in a crash. They were able to continue their way, but had to make a big effort to get back in front. Reusser attacked and, behind her, the yellow-and-black brigade rode themselves completely empty, but a real chase never got going. Henderson seized the moment to sneak away with a small group and looked to be fighting for a podium place. However, the peloton came back in the final kilometre. Swinkels squeezed out a strong sprint and finished fourth.
"We had quite a lot of bad luck today."
"We had quite a lot of bad luck today," Swinkels said. "I had to change my bike early on and Anna and Teuntje fell, so we were basically always in pursuit. Fortunately, we were able to turn it into something nice in the final. We kept fighting, because you know it's never over in Gent-Wevelgem. Anna joined a group and that was ideal. Eventually we caught them back at six hundred metres from the finish line. Then I got to the front a bit too early and had to wait with my sprint. Fourth place is a little bit disappointing, but I think we are getting closer every time. The podium is going to follow. That's the goal for the upcoming races."
"It was a stressful day," race coach Carmen Small said. "There were a lot of crashes and we managed to turn a bad situation into a good one. The control was lost for a while because of all the bike changes and crashes, but our riders showed great things after all the hectic moments. After the big crash, Anna rode Coryn Labecki's bike for a while. We were only able to give her a new bike 20 kilometres later. Then we took control again, but it was too late to catch Reusser back. In the end, Karlin missed the podium by a few centimetres. That's slightly disappointing, but we did well today."