Wiggle Honda Pro Cycling’s Giorgia Bronzini has won the Tour of Chongming Island World Cup race on the island across the mouth of the Yangtze River from Shanghai, China. Having been beaten into two third places and a fourth in the stage race of the same name earlier in the week, the former two-time road World Champion managed to beat big Dutch sprint rival Kirsten Wild (Hitec Products) to the line by more than a length this time, with Fanny Riberot (French National Team) winning the close battle for third.
“There was nothing especially different than the other stages, apart from some side wind in the bridge and a small break in the finale that the peloton chased back at five to go,” Bronzini said.
After narrow defeats to Wild this week on the slightly downhill finishing straight, the Wiggle Honda Pro Cycling riders decided to change tactics to try to beat the big Dutch rider. With two former Chongming Island stage race winners in the team, in on-form Chloe Hosking and double track World Champion Nettie Edmondson – who was making her debut in China this week – the black and orange riders had several options at the finish.
It was Bronzini herself that was to take responsibility as the line approached, however, to improve on her two podium places from the previous two years.
“We were together for the lead out for Chloe, but there was some chaos before the last corner that divided us, so I remained with Nettie in my wheel,” Bronzini explained. “At 700 metres to go the best thing was go out in the right side to pull for a sprint, but I had no space so I decided to wait.
“At 300 metres to go I checked behind me and also Nettie wasn’t in my draft so I decided to defend my position and keep Wild’s wheel,” the former World Champion continued. “Fortunately for me there was a strong head wind and she had to take a long sprint, so I could come out the last moment.”
Bronzini’s victory is the third in the World Cup for Wiggle Honda Pro Cycling in 2015 so far, after Jolien D’hoore’s Ronde van Drenthe win, and Elisa Longo Borghini’s in the Tour of Flanders. Every one of these victories has come as a result of the close camaraderie in the black and orange team, where a win for one rider is a win for everybody.
“I really think that that win depended on the amazing sprit that there is in the team with staff too,” Bronzini acknowledged. “Together we can!”
1. Giorgia Bronzini (Wiggle Honda Pro Cycling)
2. Kirsten Wild (Hitec Products)
3. Fanny Riberot (France)
Wiggle Honda Pro Cycling’s Giorgia Bronzini took her second straight third place finish in the 2015 Tour of Chongming Island on the second stage of the three-day race in Chongxi. Dutch powerhouse Kirsten Wild (Hitec Products) won the stage in a bunch sprint, as she had done the day before, with Roxane Fournier just beating Bronzini to second place this time.
“The girls did an amazing job again today to put me in the best position,” Bronzini explained. “For the sprint the girls tried to lead out me but in the end I was again in Wild’s wheel. I tried to come out and get past her but it was really hard!”
Once again, the flat, straight roads of Chongming Island offered few opportunities for riders to escape the peloton, but four riders managed to get clear midway through the 113.7km stage. With so many teams riding for their sprinters, however, the small group stood little chance of staying away to the finish, and the peloton approached the wide finishing straight all together again.
“The race today was like yesterday, with not much happening,” said Bronzini. “At the first intermediate sprint I wasn’t in the first three, but there was massive chaos and big risk of crashing. The second one was taken by the breakaway, so I could wait for the finish.”
Although Bronzini missed out at the intermediate sprints, time bonuses on the finish line mean that the former two-time road World Champion moves up to second place in the general classification, just 15 seconds behind race leader Wild.
1. Kirsten Wild (Hitec Products)
2. Roxane Fournier (Poitou-Charentes-Futuroscope)
3. Giorgia Bronzini (Wiggle Honda Pro Cycling)
Wiggle Honda Pro Cycling’s Giorgia Bronzini sprinted to third place at the end of the opening stage of the Tour of Chongming Island, in the Chongbei area of the island across the mouth of the Yangtze River from Shanghai. The former two-time road World Champion was beaten to the line by Dutch super-sprinter Kirsten Wild (Hitec Products) and American Shelley Olds (Bigla) at the end of a largely uneventful 107km stage.
“It was a pretty uneventful race, with like four turns in the whole course,” Bronzini said afterwards. “The first intermediate sprint was massive chaos, and the girls tried to pull me to the sprint, but I lost them so I was out for the first one. The second one was better and I was second behind Wild.”
With virtually nothing, aside from a few corners in the wide, flat, boulevard-style roads, to disrupt the peloton, a bunch sprint was almost inevitable. Aside from a number of riders distanced by the bunch’s pace in the closing kilometres, the entire race arrived at the Chongbei finish together.
Wiggle Honda Pro Cycling’s Emilia Fahlin and Chloe Hosking managed to position Bronzini for her final sprint but, unfortunately, the flat – almost downhill – nature of the finishing straight meant that the on-form Wild would be tough to beat.
“Nothing really happened after that until the finish line,” Bronzini continued. “The girls did an amazing job overall; in the last 800 metres Emilia and Chloe did a really great effort!
“In the end third in that sprint that is not one of my favourite things, but we keep going to try, and we never give up! Thanks all the girls and staff for the support!”
1. Kirsten Wild (Hitec Products)
2. Shelley Olds (Bigla)
3. Giorgia Bronzini (Wiggle Honda Pro Cycling)
Wiggle Honda Pro Cycling’s Chloe Hosking has taken her long-awaited first UCI victory of the 2015 season at the Marianne Vos Classic, in Aalburg, Netherlands. The 24-year-old Australian outsprinted former World Champion Vos (Rabo-Liv) herself at the end of the tough, attritional 121km race, ahead of Amy Pieters (Liv-Plantur) and Emma Johansson (Orica-AIS). Hosking’s Wiggle Honda Pro Cycling teammate Elisa Longo Borghini took fourth place, three seconds behind, as an elite leading group began to split in the final kilometres.
“It’s so nice to put my hands up in the air, rather than watch Jolien [D’hoore], Gio [Bronzini] or Elisa do it,” Hosking laughed. “It’s been so fantastic this year, the team’s had so many wins, and I’ve been there for a lot of them but it has’t been me! It’s really, really nice to be on the top step.”
Following a fast start, which saw several riders lose contact at the rear of the peloton, a group of 13 riders got away after 23km, containing many of the race’s big names. Hosking and Longo Borghini also had Wiggle Honda Pro Cycling teammate Eileen Roe for company, but Vos also had Roxane Knetemann and Moniek Tenniglo, Pieters had Julia Soek, Johansson had Chloe McConville, and there were three riders from Parkhotel-Valkenburg in Janneke Ensing, Chanella Stougje and Natalie van Gogh.
By the time it crossed the finish line for the first time, after 35km, the group was more than a minute and a half ahead of the next group on the road. On the flat, windy parcours McConville, and then Stougje, lost contact with the others, however, leaving 11 up front. The gap continued to grow, to almost three and a half minutes as the leaders began the first of three 11.3km finishing circuits, which meant that the winner was almost certain to come from this group.
“It was really, really windy so it was always going to split up, so we had to make sure we were ready for it to happen,” Hosking explained. “We knew that we had to be at the front, but we were only four so we couldn’t really afford to be the ones that started the echelon. When it did split we had three there, which was really fantastic, and I think we rode quite smart. We all conserved our energies, but we didn’t miss turns, so we didn’t annoy anybody.
“In the last 30km the games started to get played,” said Hosking. “Rabo was the dominant team, and we knew they wanted to win; it’s the Marianne Vos Classic, so of course they wanted to win! I spoke to the girls, and we said that we’d follow a Rabo girl each, because they had three as well.”
Knetemann began to attack the group, then Vos – who has won five of the last seven editions of the race named after her – put in a big move as the group began the second lap, but the former World Champion was quickly chased down. Tenniglo and van Gogh briefly got clear midway through the final lap, followed by a another move from Knetemann, but everything was chased down and the splintering group entered the final kilometre heading for a sprint.
“Roxane Knetemann was really active: I covered a couple of her attacks, Eileen covered a couple and Elisa covered some too!” Hosking exclaimed.
“In the end I think I timed the sprint perfectly, I jumped on Amy Pieters’ wheel with probably 300 to go. I thought maybe I was a little bit boxed on – Vos came on my outside – so I went back, then went forward, and I felt really, really good in the sprint!
“I’m really happy to get the victory today, especially after we rode so well as a team. It was so nice to see both Elisa and Eileen in the front group with me. I was so proud of them, especially Eileen, she said to me that it was so good to be part of the race, and she really was! She had a huge impact on the win today, and that was fantastic!”
1. Chloe Hosking (Wiggle Honda Pro Cycling)
2. Marianne Vos (Rabo-Liv)
3. Amy Pieters (Liv-Plantur)
4. Emma Johansson (Orica-AIS)
5. Elisa Longo Borghini (Wiggle Honda Pro Cycling)
10. Eileen Roe (Wiggle Honda Pro Cycling)
A second stage victory for Wiggle Honda Pro Cycling’s Mara Abbott sealed a record fifth victory in the Tour of the Gila in Pinos Altos, New Mexico. the 29-year-old Coloradan, riding for the Amy D Foundation in memory of the late Amy Dombroski, rode clear of the rest of the field on the fifth and final stage, the Gila Monster Road Race, between Silver City and Pinos Altos. Katie Hall (UnitedHealthcare) took second place on the stage, 37 seconds behind Abbott, with Breanne Nalder (DNA Cycling) in third place, three minutes back.
Having led the race since the mountaintop finish at Mogollon on stage 1, Abbott confirmed her overall victory, with Hall’s performance enough to lift her up to second place overall, two minutes and 12 seconds behind. Lauren Stephens (Tibco-SVB), who had come close to Abbott’s lead after the stage three time trial, dropped to third place at three minutes and 36 seconds.
“I’m very proud to be able to win Gila again,” Abbott said. “This race means a lot to me – not only are the courses a joy to ride, but the community has embraced me and I love to have familiar faces to return to each year.”
The 110.9km stage saw the peloton stay together until after the first climb to Hanover, but attacks began as soon as the descent that followed was over. Nalder got away with Jasmin Glaesser (Optum) and former Wiggle Honda Pro Cycling rider Linda Villumsen (UnitedHealthcare), and the trio was a minute clear before Abbott put the Amy D Foundation team to work to pull them back.
On the final climb to Meadow Creek Abbott bridged across to the lead riders, along with Hall and Flavia Oliviera (Visit Dallas). Having made contact, Abbott made her winning move, stayed clear on the descent and the final climb to the Pinos Altos finish.
“I’ve done this last stage quite a few times, so I have some experience with the dynamics,” Abbott explained. “I was confident in my ability to compete with Lauren [Stephens] on the climb – but you always have nerves going into a stage! This stage is quite tough and it is always a big relief to cross the finish line – especially to bring home a win!”
Meanwhile, as much of Wiggle Honda Pro Cycling was racing at the GP Elsy Jacobs in Luxembourg, Great Britain Criterium Champion Eileen Roe and Anna Christian were representing the black and orange team in the inaugural Tour of Yorkshire Women’s Race in York, in the north of England. The four laps of the 20km circuit provided few opportunities for breakaways and the race came down to the expected bunch sprint.
Roe was narrowly beaten to the line by Louise Mahé (Ikon-Mazda), with Katie Curtis (Pearl Izumi-Sports Tours International) taking third.
Result Stage 5
1. Mara Abbott (Amy D Foundation)
2. Katie Hall (UnitedHealthcare) @ 37s
3. Breanne Nalder (DNA Cycling) @ 3’00”
Final General Classification
1. Mara Abbott (Amy D Foundation)
2. Katie Hall (UnitedHealthcare) @ 2’12”
3. Lauren Stephens (Tibco-SVB) @ 3’36”
Photo Credit: Mitchell Clinton / Tour of the Gila
Wiggle Honda Pro Cycling’s Mara Abbott won the opening stage of the Tour of the Gila, between Silver City and the mountaintop finish at Mogollon, New Mexico, as she rode the rest of the peloton off her wheel. Riding for the composite Amy D Foundation team, set up in memory of cyclocross rider Amy Dombroski, who was tragically killed while training in Belgium in 2013, Abbott finished 48 seconds ahead of Abby Mickey (UnitedHealthcare), with Jasmin Glaesser (Optum p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies) a further five seconds back in third.
“It was a good start!” Abbott laughed afterwards. “It’s a climb that I’ve done a lot of times before. This is the seventh time I’ve done the race, and the sixth time I’ve won this stage, so I know the climb very well. There’s a big flat spot in the middle, so it’s a good idea not to attack before then, because you’ll get totally destroyed if you’re out there on your own; it’s really flat, and windy and exposed. It gets steeper as it goes on, so it’s just waiting for a good moment and figuring you can get away.”
Abbott’s first attack was followed by Mickey and Flavia Oliviera (Visit Dallas) but, with little cooperation from the other two, the Wiggle Honda Pro Cycling rider elected to sit up and try again.
“I went and they sort of followed me, but they wouldn’t work so I sat up and a larger group came back together,” she explained. “Then I went again, and that time I was able to get away solo.”
Her second attack saw Abbott leave the others behind and, displaying the climbing prowess that has seen her take this stage five times before, managed to open up a 48 second gap by the finish. With four days to go however, including a 26km time trial on stage three, the two-time Giro d’Italia winner is taking nothing for granted.
“You always look at everybody as a threat, and there were some riders I was worried about on this stage,” she explained. “But it’s a hard race, and there’s a long time trial, so it’s about seeing how people stack up across the week. Today I was pretty confident and now I’ll just see if I can cobble the rest of it together.”
Having represented Wiggle Honda Pro Cycling in last Wednesday’s Flèche Wallonne – where she was brought down in a nasty crash early on, but managed to chase back to the peloton to play her part later – Abbott instead pulled on the pale blue and orange jersey of the Amy D Foundation; a charity set up in the memory of Amy Dombroski, who was tragically killed in a collision with a truck while training in Belgium in October 2013.
“This is really special, because she was a good friend of mine,” Abbott said. “So to be able to ride and represent her – we often represent sponsors, but we don’t very often represent people – so to be able to ride for the memory of friend of mine, and an organisation that gives young girls opportunities in cycling is a huge honour, so that’s really special.”
1. Mara Abbott (Amy D Foundation)
2. Abby Mickey (UnitedHealthcare)
3. Jasmin Glaesser (Optum p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies)
Podium Photo Credit: Twitter
Wiggle Honda Pro Cycling’s Jolien D’hoore won the bunch sprint for second place in the Dwars door de Westhoek, in Boezinge, near Ypres in West Flanders. The Belgian Champion beat Australian Tiffany Cromwell (Velocio-SRAM) and Kirsten Wild (Hitec Products) on the cobbled finishing straight, 30 seconds behind Cromwell’s teammate Elise Delzenne, who had escaped midway through the 135km race.
“It was a strange race,” D’hoore said. “Everybody was waiting, and waiting for a bunch sprint. But then one girl got away.
“We saw that she had two minutes, then one minute thirty, but we said that it was not our job to close the gap,” the Belgian Champion explained. “There were more top favourites from the other teams, and we wouldn’t work as the only team to close the gap so that the other teams could benefit from us. We thought it was better for us to become second like this than to become second if it was a bunch sprint and the others could benefit from our work.”
The race was made up of an opening 88km that included four circuits based on the Rodeberg climb, followed by four flat, 11.8km laps of Boezinge. The peloton split several times on the rainy parcours, but reformed each time. When Delzenne attacked with 44km to go, however, the French rider was allowed to escape.
“Everybody was looking at us, to see if we wanted to chase. But Kirsten Wild was also there, and her team wasn’t doing anything. If the girl’s still in front with a few k’s to go, then she deserves the win.
“We took a risk, and we came second so it’s not that bad,” she added. “Velocio was doing the sprint after Elise, for Cromwell, and she really wanted to get the second place!”
D’hoore’s second place draws her Spring campaign to a close, with the Belgian Champion having been racing almost constantly – on track and road – for almost a year. The 25-year-old will now take some time off, before returning in mid-June as she builds up to the defence of her black, yellow and red jersey.
“I had a break last year in May, and then I did the second half of the road season, and then immediately went to the track,” D’hoore explained. “In December I had one week off the bike – but what’s one week! Then, after the track I did the road again, so I’ve been pretty busy!”
Although busy, D’hoore’s Spring has been the most successful of her career to date, and has included her first ever World Cup victory in the Ronde van Drenthe – on her 25th birthday – as well as second place in the Tour of Flanders, behind Wiggle Honda Pro Cycling teammate Elisa Longo Borghini.
“It’s quite amazing, I had a few good races,” D’hoore said modestly. “Also thanks to the team, of course! Also today everyone did a really good job!”
Along with second place for D’hoore, great news for Wiggle Honda Pro Cycling saw Olympic Champion Dani King return to the international peloton this weekend for the first time since the 24-year-old’s horrific crash in November last year.
1. Elise Delzenne (Velocio-SRAM)
2. Jolien D’hoore (Wiggle Honda Pro Cycling)
3. Tiffany Cromwell (Velocio-SRAM)
Elisa Longo Borghini will lead a powerful Wiggle Honda Pro Cycling into Wednesday’s La Flèche Wallonne Femmes, the fourth round of the UCI Women’s Road World Cup. The 23-year-old Italian has finished on the podium of both of the last two editions of the southern Belgian Classic and, after her victory in the Tour of Flanders earlier this month, will be one of the outstanding favourites. She will take the start alongside Belgian teammate Jolien D’hoore, who will proudly wear the World Cup Leader’s Jersey in the second of her country’s events in the classification.
“Flèche Wallonne is an awesome race,” said Longo Borghini. “It’s my favourite classic and it is one of my big targets for the spring. I have been training on the lap, and I hope that I can be good on Wednesday.
“Our team is really competitive and we have also the World Cup leader,” Longo Borghini added. “It’s going to be fun!”
As an historic race in the men’s peloton, La Flèche Wallonne Femmes carries considerable cachet as it races over the same roads, and finishes atop the iconic, super-steep Mur de Huy. The 121km race will start at the top of the Mur, before taking in two long loops around the hilly Ardennes countryside. The peloton will climb the Mur for the first time after 57.5km at the end of lap one, while the second lap will take in a small detour to climb the almost-as-steep Côte de Cherave before the final race up to the finish line.
Although the finale of La Flèche Wallonne is not one that is best suited to Jolien D’hoore’s characteristics, the Belgian Champion will be proud to line up at the start in Huy resplendent in the White Jersey of the leader in the World Cup Classification. The 25-year-old first took the jersey after her birthday victory in the Ronde van Drenthe on the 14th of March, but didn’t wear it at the Trofeo Binda as she was racing in Gent-Wevelgem on the same day.
Second place in the Tour of Flanders, behind Longo Borghini, meant that D’hoore has retaken the World Cup lead, and she is excited to display the jersey in her home nation on Wednesday.
“It’s obviously a big honour for me to race in the World Cup leader’s jersey, in a World Cup race in Belgium, so that’s special and new for me,” she said. “But I won’t race there to get my own result, I will help Elisa and the others of the team and try to do as much as I can on that type of course.”
Riding alongside Longo Borghini and D’hoore will be former US Champion Mara Abbott, whose victory in last week’s Redlands Classic highlighted her status as one of the strongest climbers in the women’s peloton. The two-time Giro d’Italia winner will be joined by former Spanish Champion Anna Sanchis, Japanese Champion Mayuko Hagiwara and Frenchwoman Audrey Cordon-Ragot, who has recovered from the illness that forced her to sit out best friend Longo-Borghini’s Flanders victory.
Wiggle Honda Pro Cycling team for La Flèche Wallonne Femmes (22nd April)
Mara Abbott (United States), Audrey Cordon-Ragot (France), Jolien D’hoore (Belgium), Mayuko Hagiwara(Japan), Elisa Longo Borghini (Italy), Anna Sanchis (Spain)
Wiggle Honda Pro Cycling’s riders were in action all over the World this weekend, racing to glory on three continents. While much of the team was at the Energiewacht Tour, in the Netherlands, Mara Abbott took overall victory in the Redlands Classic, in California, while Nettie Edmondson was winning the Sprints Classification in the Adelaide Tour, in her native South Australia.
Arguably the nicest result for the black and orange team, however, saw Olympic Champion Dani King win the two-day Tour of the Reservoir, in Northumberland, Northern England, in her first race back from the horrific injuries she suffered in November last year.
“I was really nervous before the start of the first stage on Saturday, but I just had to get stuck in,” King said afterwards. “The first race back was always going to be the hardest, because of my confidence, but I got stuck in.”
The opening stage saw King escape the peloton with Katie Archibald (Pearl Izumi-Sports Tours International), and she managed to outsprint the talented Scottish rider at the finish.
“I’ve been working on my sprint, so I wanted to take it to the finish,” King explained. “Katie attacked me a couple of times on the flat but I sat tight and managed to get her at the end.”
Sunday’s second stage saw the peloton racing under heavy rain, which turned to snow at times, but King was able – with the help of Wiggle Honda Pro Cycling teammate Anna Christian – to hold off the expected onslaught from her rivals. Archibald’s teammate, former Wiggle Honda Pro Cycling rider Joanna Rowsell, escaped to take the stage, but King was able to hold on to take overall victory.
“Pearl Izumi rode a really attacking race,” King said. “Between us Anna and I must have chased down about ten by the time Jo attacked. I can’t tell you how good Anna was today, she really rode her heart out for me, and then got top five overall herself!
“It was just a war of attrition in the end, the weather was horrendous! I’ve never been so cold on a bike before; when I finished I couldn’t even talk, but it felt so good to be racing my bike again. I’ve had so much inspiration from the team, it’s been an incredible few weeks, and it’s nice to keep the winning streak going for Wiggle Honda!”
Mara Abbott’s victory in the Redlands Classic was a first for the 29-year-old American after having finished second on three previous occasions. Riding for the mixed “LA Sweat” team, she took second place in the hilly stage one circuit race, kept in touch overall in the second stage time trial, then soloed to victory on the uphill finish to Oak Glen on stage, where she took the leader’s jersey as well as the stage.
“Amber Neben [Visit Dallas Cycling] set tempo up the climb starting out, which narrowed down the field a bunch,” Abbott explained. “She actually rode everyone straight off of her wheel.
“I waited a bit for a good moment and then attacked, passing Amber and finishing solo to the finish,” she added. “Because I was down in GC a bit after the time trial, and knowing that Amber is an experienced rider who could hold a strong pace, I knew that I had to go all out the entire way across the finish line.
“This was a really special victory for me because I won Oak Glen in 2007 – which was the last time that they held this stage – it was my very first professional win,” Abbott added. “It’s a cool race. It’s one of those ones where the town loves having you there. It’s a cool race.”
Abbott then held on to her overall lead in the following two stages, to beat Neben by 24 seconds, and Allie Dragoo (Twenty16-Sho-Air) by 42.
In the Netherlands, Belgian Champion Jolien D’hoore added second place in the fourth and final stage of the Energiewacht Tour to the victory she had taken in stage one. The 25-year-old outsprinted Kirsten Wild (Hitec Products) from a group of seven riders, just over a minute behind the solo victory of Anna van der Breggen (Rabo-Liv) on the German island of Borkum.
“The whole tour was good for me,” D’hoore said. “I showed myself each time in the front group, so that was good. I was feeling really good; I had good legs. I had only one win, but I was there all the time, with second, fourth and fifth.”
The decisive split came early in the fourth stage, with D’hoore getting herself into the winning move of ten riders on the windy circuit race. As the only Wiggle Honda Pro Cycling rider in the group, however, she was powerless to stop van der Breggen’s attack with around 30km remaining.
“Rabobank was there with three girls, Velocio had two girls – they were defending GC – so there wasn’t much I could do to chase van der Breggen,’ D’hoore explained. “I just had to stay there, hope we could get her, and then sprint. We didn’t catch her, so it was second.
“It’s pretty nice to beat Kirsten, even though it was for second place,” she added. “It was a bit hectic, with a lot of corners in the last 200 metres, and a little uphill. I like sprints that are just straight on, but this was different.”
Marking her return to road racing, following a break after winning two titles at the UCI Track World Championships, Australian Nettie Edmondson was in action in her home city race, the four-day Adelaide Tour. Facing the fastest riders in the domestic peloton, the 23-year-old took one second place and one third, and came away with an emphatic victory in the Rezz Hotel Sprint Classification.
Wiggle Honda Pro Cycling’s Jolien D’hoore continued her incredible streak of form with another victory, in the first stage of the Energiewacht Tour, between Wedde and Ter Apel in the north eastern Netherlands province of Groningen. The Belgian Champion was first to the line at the end of the 109.2km stage, with a late burst of speed, beating the Velocio-SRAM duo of Barbara Guarischi and Trixi Worrack into second and third.
“The last corner was 150 metres from the finish, and I came into the last corner in sixth or seventh position or something,” D’hoore explained. “So yeah, I thought ‘my sprint is over! This is too late!’ But then a gap opened up on the right side and I thought ‘I’m going to give it a go, and I’m going to try if it’s possible,’ and yeah, I won!”
The stage was made up of a twisting 53.6km loop across the Groningen province, followed by four laps of a 13.9km finishing circuit. The strong winds that usually characterise the Energiewacht Tour were absent and, with little else in the way of obstacles, the peloton stayed largely together for the whole day.
The race was characterised by a two-rider break from Marijn de Vries (Parkhotel Valkenberg) and Winanda Spoor (Jan van Arckel), who escaped almost immediately and were able to build a lead of more than two minutes. With so many top sprinters in the peloton, however, the breakaway stood little chance of making it to the finish. Wiggle Honda Pro Cycling’s Amy Roberts counterattacked midway through the stage, along with Sara Mustonen (Liv-Plantur), to put pressure on the other teams to chase.
“The weather was really nice, about 15 degrees, and no wind,” D’hoore said. “So that means it’s very dangerous riding. There was not much happening in the bunch. Nobody wanted to go and close the gap – because there were two girls in front – but no one wanted to ride, and it was a bit boring sometimes!”
De Vries and Spoor were finally caught with just a few kilometres left, whereupon the teams of the sprinters began to organise themselves for the finish. Wiggle Honda Pro Cycling’s Chloe Hosking led into the final corner and, although Guarischi was the first to launch her sprint, D’hoore was able to ease past the Italian to take the stage by almost a bike length.
“Amy was given the job of staying in front of the bunch, and to go in an attack if it was possible, and she did a really great job,” D’hoore explained. “Today she was really amazing; she stayed in front the whole time and she even got in an attack; yeah, she did a really great job.
“At about 10km to go Velocio started to ride – they were in a formation – and they did a really good job for Guarischi, so we caught the two riders with 4km to go or something. Chloe and me stayed in the wheel of Velocio – also Rabobank and Boels were there – but then Chloe did a really good job again. She kept me in front until the last corner.”
A ten-second time bonus on the line puts D’hoore on the same time as prologue winner Anna van der Breggen (Rabo-Liv) but the Dutch rider retains the yellow jersey by fractions of a second. With a team time trial tomorrow morning though, the Belgian champion does not expect to take the race lead, but will be chasing more single day success later in the week.
“The main goal was to take a stage win, not to go for GC, because we are just five riders and that makes it difficult,” she explained. “Also, a lot of teams like Velocio and Rabobank have already had a training camp for the TTT.
“It’s not getting windy or anything, the weather forecast looks really nice: 15 degrees and no wind, so that’s too bad!” D’hoore laughed. “First we have to do the TTT, and then we’ll see what the GC looks like, but probably we’ll go for another stage win.”
1. Jolien D’hoore (Wiggle Honda Pro Cycling)
2. Barbara Guarischi (Velocio-SRAM)
3. Trixi Worrack (Velocio-SRAM)