Boels-Dolmans Cycling Team prepares for two weeks of racing in Belgium leading up to the Tour of Flanders on Sunday 1 April. Two Women’s WorldTour races are on the calendar this week, with the inaugural Lotto Women Cup Brugge-De Panne on Thursday and Gent-Wevelgem on Sunday.
Van den Bos returned to racing in Trofeo Binda last week after having crashed in the Drentse Acht. She skipped the Women’s WorldTour Ronde van Drenthe, keeping to the internal concussion protocol.
“You don't really know the impact such a crash had on your had, so I didn't start in Drenthe to avoid any risks," said Van den Bos. "When it comes to your head, you need to be extra careful. But I'm doing much better now and I look forward to starting in De Panne. We'll see how my body copes with racing again."
A men’s edition of the three-day De Panne-Koksijde race has been around for a while and 2018 sees the introduction of a women’s race alongside. The course runs alongside the coast of Belgium and is only slightly undulating. Van den Bos expects the wind will play a major role in the outcome of the race.
"I expect the course to be perfect for echelons, just like in the men's race," Van den Bos said. "Coming from the province of North-Holland, I'd be lying if I said I don't look forward to that."
"It's great that there is another race no the calendar which is aligned with a men's race," Van den Bos continued. "It's easier for the women's race to get attention as there is already a tv crew on site to cover the men's race. However, the women's teams are not as big as the men's teams are, so we can't have a lot more races onthe caledar."
About the strategy for both De Panne-Koksijde and Gent-Wevelgem, Van den Bos can be brief. "We always race agressivly," she said. "If anyone of us creates a situation that works for the team, we will go with that."
The Lotto Women Cup Brugge-De Panne, which is often called De Panne-Koksijde like the name of the men’s race used to be, is a new one-day Women’s WorldTour race and will be held on Thursday 22 March. The race starts in Brugge (Bruges) at 12.50CET and takes the peloton to De Panne-Koksijde, where it will do two local laps before reaching the finish. The race is 151.7 kilometres in total, so is expected to finish around 4.30pm CET.
Follow official race account @Driedaagse_ or the hashtags #UCIWWT and #Driedaagse for updates on Twitter. A livestream of the final kilometres will be on VTM and RTBF in Belgium (geo-restricted) and is available on the Eurosport Player (paid service). There will be highlights of the race on Eurosport 1 Netherlands from 5.15-6.15pm CET.
The second race this week is Gent-Wevelgem on Sunday 25 March. It will be the eighth edition of the race, but only its third with Women’s WorldTour status. The women’s race doesn’t start in Gent, but in Ieper at 10.30am CET. It finishes after 150 kilometres in Wevelgem, between 2.10 and 2.40pm CET.
There is a women’s specific hashtag #GWEWomen to follow, along with #UCIWWT and the official race account @GentWevelgem. Highlights of the women’s race should be included in the broadcast of the men’s race.
Boels-Dolmans for Brugge-De Panne
Jip van den Bos
Boels-Dolmans for Gent-Wevelgem
Jip van den Bos