Women’s cycling race forced to pause after female rider catches up with men

Nicole Hanselmann pictured during the 13th Omloop Het Nieuwsblad on March 02, 2019 in Ninove, Belgium. Luc Claessen/Getty Images

The women’s edition of a one-day cycling race in Belgium was forced to pause after the lead female rider almost caught up to the men’s competition which had started on the same course 10 minutes earlier.

Swiss rider Nicole Hanselmann was forced to halt during the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad race on Saturday after the cyclist broke away from the pack and was on the heels of the men’s competition. Race officials ordered the cyclist to pause her race to “neutralize” the gap between the men’s and women’s competition.

“We came too close to the men’s so we had to get a neutral time gap again,” Hanselmann told CyclingNews following the race. “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 neutralize the race because we are getting too close to the men,” Hanselmann said.

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The cyclist explained the “awkward moment” of catching up to male competitors on social media.

“I attacked after 7km, and was alone in the break for around 30km… but then an awkward moment happened and I almost saw the back of the men’s peloton… Maybe the other women and me were too fast or the men too slow,” Hanselmann said in an Instagram post.

According to the cycling magazine, once the race resumed, Hanselmann was given a head-start on the female pack, to allow her to attempt to regain the time advantage she had over her competitors.

“I got the gap again to start with on my own and I just stood 10 metres ahead of the bunch waiting,” Hanselmann told the magazine. “I got the gap again and then they caught me at the end of the first cobbled section.”

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Hanselmann would go on to finish the race in 74th position.

— with a file from the Associated Press

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