Optum Pro Cycling’s Lauren Hall, riding with the US National team, out-foxed her breakaway companions to claim a thrilling sprint victory at the third edition of Gent-Wevelgem Women in Belgium, and just hours later, her Orange and Black teammate Leah Kirchmann sprinted to victory in stage 3′s criterium at California’s San Dimas Stage Race.
Gent-Wevelgem, the historic men’s classic that began in 1934, added a women’s edition in 2012. The 2014 route, now a UCI-ranked event, included two ascents of the daunting Kemmel and Monteberg climbs along it’s 115 kilometer route, providing Hall the opportunity to showcase her climbing prowess and untouchable finishing speed.
Positioning herself safely towards the front of the race up the climbs, Hall was able to follow the accelerations and joined a group of seven riders in what would become the decisive move. After building up a lead of nearly a minute over the final 30km, the chess-match began inside the final kilometer. Hall responded quickly to each attack, before ultimately unleashing her sprint for the line within the final few hundred meters – claiming the biggest win of her career in most impressive fashion.
Stateside, Leah Kirchmann claimed victory in San Dimas’ criterium final stage.
Inspired by Hall’s success earlier in the day, Leah Kirchmann utilized a committed lead-out from her Orange and Black teammates to claim victory on the streets of San Dimas in sunny California. With one lap to go on the 2km circuit, the women took control at the front of the race and kept the speed high until the final corner, where Kirchmann launched her victorious dash for the line.
Photo © Dick Soepenberg (top) and Brian Hodes (bottom)