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Omloop Het Nieuwsblad women's race stopped as cyclist catches men's event


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A one-day cycling race in Belgium was temporarily stopped after breakaway rider Nicole Hanselmann nearly caught up with the men’s event.

The Swiss national champion was taking part in the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad – an event which marks the start of the 'cobbled classics' season and is a UCI World Tour sanctioned race.

The men's race started 10 minutes before the women but Bigla Pro rider Hanselmann was catching the back of the men's support vehicles after 35km.

Organisers "neutralised" the women's race in order to restore the gap between the races.

The Bilga Pro rider, who had attacked after seven kilometres and had opened a lead of around two minutes, was stopped, allowing the peloton to catch her.

When the 123km race from Gent to Ninove, was restarted, Hanselmann was allowed to build an advantage before the peloton was re-released.

However, the 27-year-old was soon caught and eventually finished in 74th place, with Chantal Blaak of The Netherlands taking the title 

"May the other women and me were too fast or the men too slow," joked Hanselmann on Instagram after the race.

Speaking to Cycling News, 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.

"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."

Image rights - Wikimedia Commons 

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