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  Dwars door de Westhoek Preview  
  Racing returns to Belgium after a number of races in the Netherlands for the fourth round of the Lotto Cycling Cup Dwars door de Westhoek. Last year Anna Van der Breggen stole the race from the sprinters to take a solo win with Jolien D'hoore winning the bunch sprint for second ahead of Lucy Garner.

2014 Results

2 Jolien D'HOORE +12
3 Lucy GARNER +12
4 Thalita DE JONG +12
5 Pauline FERRAND PREVOT +12
6 Melissa HOSKINS +12
7 Alexandra CHEKINA +12
8 Maria giulia CONFALONIERI +12
9 Emma JOHANSSON +12
10 Elke GEBHARDT +12

Past Winners

2014 - Anna Van der Breggen
2013 - Jolien D'Hoore
2012 - Kim de Baat
2011 - Grace Verbeke
2010 - Liesbeth De Vocht

The Route

The race starts off in Boezinge for an opening lap of 88.14km that includes three smaller circuits of 13km that include the Rodeberg climb. The three climbs come after 38.7km, 51.7km and 64.7km. At the conclusion of the third small lap the peloton heads back to Boezinge for four laps of an 11.8km finishing circuit. With the final ascent of the Rodeberg coming nearly 70km from the finish it is unlikely to be decisive.

The Contenders

Start list available here

Jolien D'hoore and Wiggle Honda

2013 winner and runner up last year Jolien D'hoore is having the season of her career so far winning Omloop van het Hageland before taking out Boels Rental Ronde van Drenthe and finishing second at Ronde van Vlaanderen. Picked up a stage win on the opening road stage of the Energiewacht Tour in early April. Moves from the track to road with ease and a short break to compete in the omnium at the Track World Championships didn't stop her having a strong start to the European road season. Wiggle has become the strongest team in the peloton for bunch sprints and the combination of D'hoore and Chloe Hosking will be back in action here. Add in Dani King, Amy Roberts, Eileen Roe and Emilia Fahlin and they have a very strong train.

Chloe Hosking is another strong option for the team but is likely to again play a support role for D'hoore.

Lizzie Armitstead and Boels Dolmans

Boels Dolmans dominated the early season with Ellen Van Dijk, Lizzie Armitstead, Megan Guarnier and Chantal Blaak collecting wins. On paper Armitstead is one of the best riders on paper for the win. Her finishing speed seemed reduced last year but she is back sprinting better than ever in 2015. The question is can she beat the likes of Wild, D'hoore, Garner, Olds and Hoskins.

The climbs are a long way from the finish but don't be surprised to see team try and attack at some point. The team has regularly used Ellen Van Dijk, Chantal Blaak, Christine Majerus and Megan Guarnier to put in an attack knowing they have Armitstead for a sprint and they are likely to do it again here.

Melissa Hoskins

Hoskins took two stage wins at the Santos Women's Tour in January before claiming a maiden individual national title in the points race and then added a world title in the team pursuit at the Track World Championships. After slowly starting her road season Hoskins is ready to start taking advantage of her improving form. Hoskins will come in to the race with confidence and a strong performance at the Energiewacht Tour will have helped that. When on form and full of confidence is very quick and capable of mixing it with the best. Finished sixth last year and will be looking to improve on that here. Will be able to count on strong support in the sprint from Emma Johansson, Loes Gunnewijk and Amanda Spratt. Track duo Alex Manly and Macey Stewart are settling in well and will also be important.

Kirsten Wild

Claimed gold in the scratch race and bronze in the omnium at the Track World Championships in February. Won Novilon Eurocup in March and added another stage at the Energiewacht Tour. Despite her stage win didn't seem as dominant as she has in the past but then claimed a third win in a row at Ronde van Gelderland showing she is still a force to be reckoned with. Added another win yesterday at EPZ Omloop van Borsele in a sign that she is back to her near unbeatable form.

Lucy Garner

The dual Junior World Champion took a win at the Tour of Chongming Island in her first year as a professional in 2013 but was unable to find her same level of success last year despite a number of strong showings. After a knee injury kept her out of a number of early season races Garner is back and ready to go. Sprinted to second on the weekend at Ronde van Gelderland behind Wild. Clearly back to some good form.

Amy Pieters is another option for the team but in a pure sprint Garner is the faster of the two.


Italian sprinter Barbara Guarischi gives the team an option it hasn't had since the retirement of Ina-Yoko Teutenberg. An underrated rider but one that has a very quick finish. A number of strong results in 2015 including third on the final stage of the Tour of Qatar and 5th at Novilon Eurocup. Just missed a stage win at the Energiewacht Tour and made the select group on a number of ocassions but struggled to hold on when the pace increased.

Loren Rowney broke her collarbone at Molecaten Drentse Acht van Westerveld after her best season to date including a podium at the Santos Women's Tour. Missed out on riding Flanders for the first time so expect to see her bounce back here.

In Tiffany Cromwell the team has a strong rider for almost any race and a rider that can be competitive in a number of scenarios.

Amy Cure

Picked up another world title in the track in February this time in the team pursuit but was unable to defend her title in the points race due to a schedule clash. Has been easing back in to the road but has yet to hit her best. When riding for the Australian National team in 2013 picked up three sprint wins. Track commitments kept her from racing much in 2014 but has an opportunity to again show her talent on the road. Very quick in a sprint and if Cure is on form will be fighting for the podium.

Shelley Olds and Bigla

Crashed out of Boels Rental Ronde van Drenthe but is ready to return. One of the most consistent sprinters in the peloton but wins are often hard to come by. Packs a very quick finish but there is often someone who is just that little bit fastest. Finished second to Wild at EPZ Omloop van Borsele in a sign the lack of racing hasn't hurt her chances of taking Bigla's first win of the year.

Bigla have another option in Annemiek Van Vleuten. Unlikely to win a big bunch sprint so expect to see her on the attack.

Christina Siggaard

Has been performing well for the new UCI team Matrix Fitness. 17th at Omloop van het Hageland, 19th Cholet Pays de Loire Dames and 20th at Gent Wevelgem before taking her best result to date at the start of April in 15th at Grand Prix de Dottignies. The team has been working well together and the results each race are improving. It is only a matter of time before Siggaard takes a top 10 result.

Sofie De Vuyst

Always strong in the classics especially when they are on home roads in Belgium. Is always around the mark but with the climbs so far from the finish and with a bunch sprint likely her chances are not great. Without a strong finish a top 10 would be a good result.

Ale Cipollini

The team is full of options for a sprint finish including Annalisa Cucinotta who surprised almost everyone to take the win on the opening stage of the Tour of Qatar. Maria Giulia Confalonieri is another option for team after finishing eighth here last year. Simona Frapporti and Marta Tagliaferro are other riders with strong sprints.

Other names to watch: Kelly Druyts, Kaat Hannes, Lucy Martin, Sara Olsson and Marijn De Vries.
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