Fourth place for Lonneke Uneken in Bruges - De Panne
Brugge - De Panne had a chaotic finale with a massive crash 15km from the end. Lonneke Uneken, the spearhead of Team SD Worx in the fourth WorldTour race of the year, was held up by this, so it took her energy to get back in the right position for the sprint. "Sour that I miss the podium," the 22-year-old Dutch rider said afterwards.
In a sunny Bruges-De Panne with little wind, a sprint was inevitable. On the second passage after the Moeren, Team SD Worx tried to put the peloton on the side to form a fan, but the wind was just not right to break it up. "It was just too much back wind to make an echelon," said Lonneke Uneken.
The peloton stayed together, but some riders noticed a narrowing in the middle of the road too late, causing a massive crash. Uneken: "Roxanne Fournier fell and Elena Cecchini and I were caugh behind so we lost important time. Elena brought me back perfectly with an impressive effort. Luckily I could limit the damage and didn't waist too much energy, but in the sprint I missed that little bit of freshness because of the chaotic last 15 kilometres."
In the sprint, Lotte Kopecky eventually brought Uneken into position. The Dutch rider just missed out of the podium after Elisa Balsamo, Lorena Wiebes and Martha Bastianelli. "It's sour to finish fourth. If you can achieve this after such a hectic final, there was more in it. Today was a great opportunity for me, so I am a bit disappointed. Our team was strong today. We deserved more than a fourth place. The fact that I was on the podium as best young rider is just a consolation prize. Although I take with me that the legs are really good," Uneken looked ahead optimistically.