Stephens sprints to 10th at Brabantse Pijl Dames, Gent-Wevelgem starts Sunday
Lauren Stephens and Kristen Faulkner took Flanders Classic Brabantse Pijl by storm Wednesday, finishing 10th and 11th, respectively, on a 122 km parcours packed with small, leg sapping climbs and testing cobbles.
It was a fast start to Brabantse Pijl, but the bunch stayed together until Stephens launched a long-range attack 30km to the finish in Overijse and quickly gained a 30-second advantage. With 17 km to the finish she was reabsorbed. However, despite her immense effort off the front, Stephens still had enough reserves to sprint into 10th place.
Lauren Stephens in the solo lead with a 30 second advantage. Photo/Velofocus
"Today, I took a gamble with a solo break," Stephens said. "I enjoyed taking a risk and was very happy to still finish in the top 10 after being caught by the peloton on the bottom of a steep cobbled climb on the final circuit."
For Kristen Faulkner, each race she starts this season is an adventure into the unknown. At Brabantse Pijl, the neo-pro navigated the Belgian pavé for the first time.
Kristen Faulkner focuses on one of the many cobbled climbs featured in Brabantse Pijl Dames. Photo/Velofocus
"Throughout the race, people really punched the hills," said Faulkner. "Positioning was absolutely key, as there were many cobbles, sharp corners leading into climbs, and corners after descents. I struggled to stay at the front early on, but once the group shrunk, I was able to be at the front more."
Team TIBCO Silicon Valley Bank Team Director Rachel Hedderman continues to be impressed by the squad's natural cohesion. At Brabantse Pijl, the team played an active role in influencing its dynamic.
"Lauren picked a great place to attack, and while it would have been better if a group had gone with her when they didn't, she put her head down and went for it," Hedderman said. "Nina (Kessler) also had a great race, the short climbs and technical roads are perfect for her, and she was in a great position until a rider forgot about a right turn with 1km to go and went straight, taking Nina out in the process."
"It's great to continue our momentum with another top 10 and 11th. We are starting to find our feet in these classic races and are excited about this weekend's Gent Wevelgem."
Lauren Stephens climbs toward the front of proceedings. Photo/Velofocus
Next up… The Flanders Classics continue this Sunday (Oct. 11) with Gent-Wevelgem. The 142 km course is similar to last year's edition. The first two climbs will be the Scherpenberg and Vidaigneberg, and the notorious Kemmelberg will be the last before the 35 km flat run into Wevelgem. The race starts at 1:45 p.m. and is scheduled to finish around 5:45 p.m. CEST. TV coverage will start at 4 p.m. CEST on Eurosport.com and the GCN Race Pass.
Lauren Stephens Nina Kessler Kristen Faulkner Leah Dixon Sharlotte Lucas Emily Joy Newsom