SALT LAKE CITY — A breakaway female cyclist who soared past her competitors was forced to stop mid-race last weekend after catching up to the men’s race.
Nicole Hanselmann, 27, was leading the women’s division of Belgium’s annual Omloop Het Nieuwsblad race by two minutes Saturday when, according to her Instagram, she “almost saw the back of the men's peloton,” or main body of riders, according to CNN.
Hanselmann, who was the 2017 national cycling champion in Switzerland, posted, “(Maybe) the other women and me were (too) fast or the men (too) slow.”
The men’s division had started their race eight minutes prior to the women’s, and Hanselmann had nearly caught up to them when race officials halted the women’s race to make more space between the two groups, according to Time.
Race officials confirmed that in a tweet Saturday.
Hanselmann said their race was halted for “five or seven minutes” before officials gave her a head start to regain the lead she had. At that point, however, Hanselmann had lost her momentum and fallen back with the other female racers, according to CyclingNews.
Hanselmann finished 74th, according to her Instagram.
“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," Hanselmann told Cyclingnews after finishing the race.
Social media users around the world were quick to express their thoughts on the race.
Flanders Classics, which oversees the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad race, addressed the incident in a public statement published Monday, which reads:9 comments on this story
“In normal conditions, the men ride faster than the women and the gap gradually increases. This year, however, the men were slower than usual in the beginning of the race, with a speed below 30 (kilometers per hour) at times. This circumstance caused a decreasing gap between the women’s and the men’s convoy. After 30 km, and for safety reasons, the organization had to intervene because the leader of the women’s race was getting too close to the convoy of the men’s race. At that point the elite women’s race was neutralized for about five minutes time. As soon as the safety was restored the women were able to continue, with respect for the previous time differences obtained during the race.”
The Flanders Classics officials added that the organization will consider giving the women’s division a later start in the future to prevent neutralization from happening again.
Though she finished in 74th place, Hanselmann was happy with her efforts and the race as a whole, according to CyclingNews.