Image: ©Tino Pohlmann
Trixi Worrack will lead a strong roster for CANYON//SRAM Racing in the next UCI Women's WorldTour race, Gent-Wevelgem on Sunday 26 March. Worrack is joined by British and Italian road champions Hannah Barnes and Elena Cecchini, along with Lisa Brennauer and Barbara Guarischi for a formidable line-up.
Worrack said the team has been racing aggressively and although has several different cards to play on Sunday, doesn't give away if the team will race for Elena Cecchini who currently holds second place in the Women's WorldTour overall. "We've had strong races at Ronde van Drenthe and Trofeo Binda, and then this week in Belgium we showed we have a lot of riders in good form so we can use that to our advantage. It makes our team unpredictable and it's something we like."
The 146km Gent-Wevelgem race has 5 climbs all within the space of 34km. Two small circuits around the town of Kemmel and riders face two climbs each lap. The cobblestone Kemmelberg, just 300m long but with an 11% average gradient, isn't a walk in the park and is made harder with the Monteberg climb coming just 4km later. Lisa Brennauer, who was third in a reduced bunch sprint at Wednesday's Dwars door Vlaanderen, predicts that it's unlikely to be a sprint finish.
"Going out of Kemmel you're climbing a bit on a normal road but suddenly you're turning right into a cobbled climb. The cobblestones aren't too bad but the climb defenitely hurts a lot. Also there is a tricky descent on a small road so the whole section is quite dangerous."
"I think even a little bit of wind could have an impact on the race as a lot of the roads are very exposed. I see a chance that a group could go away in the section around the Kemmelberg. I don't believe it's going to be a bunch sprint."
In the 2016 edition of Gent-Wevelgem, Brennauer won the sprint from a group of seven riders, finishing second behind solo winner Chantal Blaak. Strong crosswinds played havoc with the peloton and key selections were made even before the climbs. With a podium third place earlier this week the German rider is looking forward to racing to the finish in Wevelgem.
"I'm feeling good and the podium in Dwars door Vlaanderen gave me and the team some good motivation for the race on Sunday and showed that the form is there."
Racing starts at 11:00 (CET) from Boezinge in the historic Ieper region. Follow the race on the team's Twitter account @WMNcycling using #GWEwomen and #UCIWWT.