A female cyclist was asked to stop during a race in Belgium because she caught up the men's competition, which had started 10 minutes earlier. Swiss cyclist Nicole Hanselmann described it as an "awkward moment" when she was stopped during Omloop Het Nieuwsblad race on Saturday. She had cycled quite ahead of the women's pack and caught up with the men's support vehicles. She also said that it "killed" her chances to win the race.
While the incident received a lot of backlash on social media, the racing event's official Twitter account tweeted saying, "Neutralisation of our women race at railroad crossing in Sint-Denijs-Boekel in #OHNWomen #ohn19 due to a very slow men's race. riders will restart with same timings." The 27-year-old champion said that she lost her momentum and eventually finished in the 74th place. 4 Times When Women Stood For Their Rights to Live Equally.
Check out the tweet below:
— OmloopHetNieuwsblad (@OmloopHNB) March 2, 2019
Nicole had developed a two-minute lead 30 kilometres into the 120-kilometre when she was stopped at a level crossing so that the time gap with the men's race can be restored. Nicole took to Instagram saying, "Today was the first spring classic in Belgium. 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... May the other women and me were to fast or the men to slow."
Nicole being stopped during the race:
📰 A prestigious women's one-day race in Belgium was temporarily halted after breakaway leader Nicole Hanselmann almost caught the men's race. The Omloop Het Nieuwsblad race marks the start of the 'cobbled classics' season and is a UCI World Tour event. #Cycling pic.twitter.com/Yrk82koJZp
— TMSS 🎙️ (@TheMeridianSS) March 4, 2019
Check out Nicole Hanselmann's Instagram post here:
View this post on Instagram
Today was the first spring classic in Belgium. I attacked after 7km, and was alone in the break for around 30km...but then a awkward moment happend and I almost saw the back of the men's peloton... May the other women and me were to fast or the men to slow🙈 After the neutralization, I was caught up again and finished the race on the 74th place. 🚴🏻♀️ #bigla #chapter2 #endura #ohn #ohn19 #ohnwomen #roadrace #springclassic #sheridesroad #sufferfest #womenpower 📸: @velofocus
Nicole's fans criticised the race officials' decision calling it "pathetic" and "devastating". They compared it to the incident during the 1967 Boston Marathon when race officials tried to stop Kathrine Switzer as women weren't allowed to run Marathons. Nicole was allowed to resume the race after a five-minute break. She added that "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." It seems despite the men's and women's races being in the same location, the organisers appeared were unprepared.