A female pro rider has joked male riders were “too slow” after catching-up with the men during a major cycling race in Belgium.
Bigla Pro Cycling team rider Nicole Hanselmann sped away from the main field of female cyclists early in the the 14th edition of the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad on March 2.
After 35km, her breakaway put her in sight of the back of the male racing pack who’d departed 10 minutes before the female race, prompting officials to step in and pause – or ‘neutralise’ – the women’s event for a short time.
Despite being allowed to retain her advantage after the women’s race restarted, the Swiss rider was caught-up and overtaken.
Posting on social media after the event, Nicole wrote: “Today was the first spring classic in Belgium. I attacked after 7km and was alone in the break for around 30km… but then an awkward moment happened and I almost saw the back of the men’s peloton…
“Maybe the other women and me were too fast or the men too slow. After the neutralization, I was caught up again and finished the race in 74th place.”
Response to the incident has been mixed, with some praising her ability to catch the male racers despite starting with a ten minute gap. Others criticised the organisers for failing to ensure a wide enough interval between the start of the women’s and men’s events.
Bigla’s Leah Thomas eventually took the team’s top position, finishing in 20th place. The race was won by Chantal Blaak, a Dutch cyclist with the Boels-Dolmans team.
The Omloop Het Nieuwsblad is the first of the Cobbled Classics that take place each year.