A cycling race in Belgium had to be paused when the leader of the women’s race caught up with the men’s race in front.
The women’s race had set off 10 minutes after the men’s, but Swiss cyclist Nicole Hanselmann of the Bigla Pro team surged ahead, gaining a two minute lead which took her so far ahead, she was in danger of being caught up by the support vehicles following the men’s race.
The race, the annual Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, was taking part in the Flemish Ardennes.
Because of Hanselmann’s proximity to the men’s race, officials hastily requested she stop at the side of the road.
Event organisers then had to ‘neutralise’ the women’s race in order to restore a safe distance between the two groups of cyclists, The Guardian reports.
Once the race was allowed to start again, Hanselmann was given a headstart on the peloton, though she was quickly caught up with, and eventually finished the race in 74th place.
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Today was the first spring classic in Belgium. I attacked after 7km, and was alone in the break for around 30km…but then a awkward moment happend and I almost saw the back of the men's peloton… May the other women and me were to fast or the men to slow🙈 After the neutralization, I was caught up again and finished the race on the 74th place. 🚴🏻♀️ #bigla #chapter2 #endura #ohn #ohn19 #ohnwomen #roadrace #springclassic #sheridesroad #sufferfest #womenpower 📸: @velofocus
Speaking to Cyclingnews, she said:
We came too close to the men’s so we had to get a neutral time gap again so it was a bit sad for me because I was in a good mood and when the bunch sees you stopping, they just get a new motivation to catch you.
The race jury just said we had to neutralise the race because we are getting too close to the men.
We could just see the ambulances of the men’s race. I think we stopped for five or seven minutes and then it just kills your chances.
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Can't get enough of this amazing kit. I really like it 😍 At time we're in Denia for our first trainingscamp with my new teammates, staff and our sponsors. Looking forward for this season with this girls, which already startes last Sunday. #trainingscamp #bigla #chapter2 #cycling #sunny #spain #sheridesroad #sufferfest #training 📸:@velofocus
Despite having to pause the race and suffering a bit of a set back because of it, Hanselmann was pleased with her performance, adding:
I got the gap again to start with on my own and I was just stood ten metres ahead of the bunch waiting and I got the gap again and then they caught me at the end of the first cobbled section.
The race was eventually won by Chantal Blaak, from the Boels Dolmans team.
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Charlie Cocksedge is a journalist at UNILAD. He graduated from the University of Manchester with an MA in Creative Writing, where he learnt how to write in the third person, before getting his NCTJ. His work has also appeared in such places as The Guardian, PN Review and the bin.