Former Tour of Flanders champion Elisa Longo Borghini has been sidelined due to illness but Wiggle High5 will line up in Oudenaarde on Sunday with a strong team that includes three-time podium finisher Kirsten Wild.
Wild placed third in 2008, second in 2009 and third again in 2010 editions of the Tour of Flanders. Although the parcours has changed in both length and difficulty since then, she is still a contender for victory.
Coryn Rivera (Sunweb) won last year’s race in a reduced bunch sprint, which was the largest number of riders to come to the line together since Ina-Yoko Teutenberg won in 2009.
This year’s race is 151km and includes five cobbled sectors and 11 climbs before the 13km run-in to the finish line in Oudenaarde.
The course is a near replica of last year’s route with changes made to the first set of hills. This will give Wild, a powerful sprinter, some confidence heading into the 15th edition of the women’s race.
Wild came into the Classics season at the Ronde van Drenthe in what was her debut with Wiggle High5. She had just completed an exceptional track season where she won three world titles. Although her transition to longer road race was a challenge at first, she has had some time to adjust to the 100km-plus races. She finished 44th at Drenthe and then 34th at Gent-Wevelgem.
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