Faulkner and Stephens finish top 10 at Gent-Wevelgem
March 28, 2021
It's safe to say Kristen Faulkner and Lauren Stephens thrive on Flanders' unforgiving roads, and today at Gent-Wevelgem proved no different. After 141.7km of hard racing, the two Americans were the top finishers from the U.S. and claimed an excellent seventh and 10th place, respectively, out of a reduced field sprint.
Gent-Wevelgem, the fourth stop on the UCI Women's WorldTour, played host to a windy and cobbled playground for Team TIBCO-Silicon Valley Bank. With the weather conditions dictating the team strategy, positioning was crucial - from start to finish.
"The strong crosswinds made this race extra challenging and technical," Faulkner said. "The peloton split multiple times because of the crosswinds, so positioning was extra important. We made sure we were toward the front going into the final kilometer and that put us in a good position for the sprint."
The wind caused an accordion effect of groups splitting over the legendary Kemmelberg climb, then re-connecting a few kilometers later. On the final lap, Stephens and Faulkner positioned themselves in the front group of about 35 riders.
"In the latter part of the race, there were some attacks that we planned on having Kristen and Lauren try and follow, or launch their own, but the race didn't work out that way, and it came together for the sprint," sports director Rachel Hedderman said. "I'm happy with how today went. I think two top tens in a WorldTour race is very good. We're inching ever closer to the podium."
"It was a tough day out there with the wind but we fought bell to bell," Stephens said. "I'm happy to be back racing in Belgium with my teammates. Every moment I found myself struggling, I had a teammate there to bring me back into position and give me a reason to fight."
Dwars door Vlaanderen (1.1) is up next for the team. The race starts Wednesday, March 31. The legendary Tour of Flanders (1.WWT) follows on April 4th. Both races will be streamed on GCN in Europe and Asia. FloBikes will stream Tour of Flanders for US and Canadian audiences. Check out the websites for updated schedules.