Lucinda Brand secured victory in the fourth edition of Dwars door het Hageland for women, showcasing her strength on the final climb of the Citadel of Diest. The 34-year-old from Lidl-Trek completed the 128.3 km race, marked by numerous unpaved sections and cobblestone zones, with a decisive performance in the last moments.

The race saw an initial large group of around 35 riders entering the final 25 kilometres, with the peloton trailing by half a minute. Anneke Dijkstra, finding the pace too slow, broke away, but her lead never extended beyond 30 seconds, leaving her unable to maintain the advantage on the Citadel of Diest. It was here that Brand made her move, taking the lead and ensuring no one could overtake her.

Reflecting on the climb, Brand remarked, “That Citadel is really incredibly painful,” adding that the team’s strategy played a crucial role. “It was a bit of a gamble because we had someone ahead, and no one wanted to use up their energy too soon. When I decided to accelerate, Thalita also picked up the pace. It was really tough. My legs completely exploded.”

The women’s race of Elmos Dwars door het Hageland covered 128.3 kilometres, featuring fourteen unpaved sections and three climbs of the Citadel of Diest. The final segment began 50 kilometres from the finish with the first ascent of Allerheiligenberg, followed by two 25-kilometre laps incorporating the gravel sections of Prinsenbos (1,800 metres), Heidebos (800 metres), and Demerdijk (4,000 metres).

During the first lap around Diest, the peloton remained intact, but the initial lap separated the main contenders from the rest. A reduced peloton of about 40 riders emerged with a 45-second lead over the chasers entering the final lap.

In the latter stages, Anneke Dijkstra launched an attack on the gravel roads of Hageland, but she couldn’t hold on. The race ultimately came down to the final ascent of the Citadel of Diest, where Brand clinched the win. She was joined on the podium by two fellow Dutch riders: Thalita de Jong, who finished second, and Karlijn Swinkels, who came in third. Mischa Bredewold narrowly missed out on the podium, finishing fourth having made the early running on the final climb, only to be passed.

Reflecting on her second-place finish, Thalita de Jong noted, “It was quite a hectic race. The gravel sections followed each other quickly, and it was always a fight to stay well-positioned. I deliberately stayed a bit back, but that meant I got caught behind crashes or dropped riders a few times. That’s the risk you take, of course. I also felt that everyone was physically and mentally drained after a while.”

The victory by Brand sees her succeed Lotte Kopecky on the list of winners, with previous champions including Chantal van den Broek-Blaak in 2021 and Ilaria Sanguineti in 2022.

UAE Team ADQ’s Karlijn Swinkels was pleased with her third-place finish, despite some setbacks for her team. “I think we raced really well together. It’s too sad about the crash involving Lizzie [Holden] and that Chiara [Consonni] and Hannah [Kunz] had a puncture, but Lara [Gillespie] and Federica [Venturelli] did a great job to help me in the final. Then I had to start early with the sprint because Mischa Bredewold tried to anticipate alone. We closed the gap and I’m happy to be on the podium!”

UAE Team ADQ Sports Director Cherie Pridham praised the team’s effort, saying, “We achieved a very good podium with Karlijn Swinkels. That was our goal for the day, and we managed to achieve it. The very positive thing was to see the team working very well together and I saw some very encouraging performances from the young riders like Federica [Venturelli] and also Lara [Gillespie], who proves once again that she is ready for the step up to the WorldTour level. Really great teamwork.”

2024 Dwars door het Hageland result

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