Nicole Hanselmann’s race was ruined because she made up a 10-minute gap to the men.
A Swiss cyclist had her race ruined in Belgium after she went too fast. Nicole Hanselmann, who races for the Bilga Pro Team was forced to stop and wait for over five minutes after catching male riders who set off 10 minutes before the women’s race began.
Organizers of the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad race caused the entire women’s race to halt after Hanselmann approached the support cars at the tail-end of the men’s race and officials were concerned they would impede her movement. The result of the stoppage ruined her pace, and despite being given a head start to make amends she finished 74th.
Hanselmann was upset at the decision, telling CyclingNews:
“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.”
Omloop Het Nieuwsblad organizers have not spoken publicly about the decision. It was likely an on-the-fly decision to try and ensure the race was able to proceed, but also caused an elite cyclist to squander her lead, and possibly a race win because she was better than men at the back of their pack.