A breakaway female cyclist in a race in Belgium has been forced to stop and wait after she started to catch up with the men, who had set off 10 minutes earlier.
In the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, Swiss cyclist Nicole Hanselmann broke away from the women’s peloton and was starting to get onto the tail of the support vehicles for the male race.
The 2017 Swiss road-racing champion and reigning national individual time trial champion was stopped at a railroad crossing, along with the rest of the female racers, just over 30 kilometres into the 122.9-kilometre race.
According to the one-day classic’s official Twitter account, the women’s race was neutralised “due to a very slow men’s race”.
After about a five-minute pause, Hanselmann was allowed to resume and rebuild her lead of over a minute, but 15 minutes later, she was reined back in on the cobbles.
Hanselmann ended up finishing 74th in the race, and said the stoppage absolutely played a part in how easily the peloton caught her.
“We came too close to the men’s so we had to get a neutral time gap again,” she told Cycling News.
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 it just kills your chances.”
The Omloop Het Nieuwsblad kicks off the Belgian cycling season and is one of the prestigious Flanders Classics.