DATE: 10 April 2023
LOCATION/DISTANCE: Mouscron, Belgium – 119.9 km
The race was a 5-lap relatively flat circuit on narrow Belgian roads. No cobbles but open sections with the potential for cross winds and the race getting very strung out. It was predicted that it would be an attritional race with the win in the form of a sprint from a reduced bunch.
This was the first race for the riders since Le Samyn on 28 February, and the first race of the season for Greta. As a result, the primary goal for the team was to race as a team. This meant, communicate well, ride in 2s and 3s, and generally look out for each other. The second goal for the team was to follow any breakaway moves from World Tour (WT) riders, and be vigilant to watch what they were doing. The race had seven WT teams so it was likely that they would be the main actors in the race.
The race day was a typical Belgian day – howling wind, heavy rain and freezing cold. A fast start and the inclement weather led to several crashes occurring in the race. Unfortunately Chloe was taken down by another rider within the first 11 k of the race. She worked hard to get back through the convoy, but she had been injured in the crash and the injuries meant that she wasn’t able to rejoin the race. Around 20 k in, cross winds contributed to a split in the bunch. It turned out to be the decisive split of the day. Greta had made it into that front group. Greta did very well to stay in the front group for 3 laps, but started to lose contact in the 4th lap. For her first race back, it shows a lot of promise for the races to come in this block.
In the second group, Emilie, Claire and Pauline rode together as a team. In particular, Emilie worked hard on the front to try and bring the groups back together since it was early in the race. Unfortunately, a lack of impetus from other riders meant that the gap remained and widened. Their group was eventually pulled off the circuit after the 4th lap.