Anna van der Breggen acknowledges the crowd as she walks onto the podium. In her team’s race report, she said: “Winning this race is very special. It was high on my list. Everyone here is very motivated at the start. It is a beautiful course. Winning is very special, with or without a crash in Ponferrada.”

Photo gallery: Highlights from the 2015 Omloop Het Nieuwsblad

by Jessi Braverman

Anna van der Breggen (Rabo Liv) may have won the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, but it was the strength of Boels-Dolmans that proved the talking point following the first European race of the season. The Dutch team put two riders on the podium with Ellen van Dijk coming in second place to the race winner in a two-up sprint and Ladies Tour of Qatar overall victor Lizzie Armitstead taking out the chase group sprint for third. Chantal Blaak edged out former Omloop Het Nieuwsblad champion Tiffany Cromwell (Velocio-SRAM) to fourth place.

“Chantal went out early,” noted Cromwell. “With that sprint, I know you can’t go out too early unless you’re trying to surprise. I had to decide if I wanted to react and chase Chantal or if I wanted to wait. I chose to wait.”

“Chloe [Hosking] started her sprint with 300 metres, which is still too early,” Cromwell added. “When Lizzie launched, I managed to get onto that. I don’t think Lizzie wanted to come past Chantal, but she could see me coming, so she accelerated. The three of us were all close across the line. I’m still learning how to sprint. I’ve improved tenfold from where I used to be, so I was happy enough with my finish.”

The two-rider race winning move escaped from an elite front group on the Molenberg, the eighth and final climb of the day. With both Boels-Dolmans and Rabo Liv well-represented amongst the chasers and the strength of the leading duo, much of the chase group resigned themselves to racing for third place.

“I got distanced over the Molenberg,” said Hosking. “When I got back to the front group, which was only about 15 riders at that point – half of them Boels – I asked Elisa [Longo Borghini] who was up there road. She said van Dijk and van der Breggen, and I was like – shit. That’s going to be hard to bring back.”

“It was only Elisa and me,” Hosking added. “Do we chase and then have nothing left and get counter-attacked in the finish? It’s a really difficult position to be in.”

In addition to speaking with Hosking and Cromwell, Ella CyclingTips spoke with Emma Johansson (Orica-AIS), Gracie Elvin (Orica-AIS) and Loren Rowny (Velocio-SRAM). We’ve included their impressions of the spring classic opener in the photo gallery below. Looking for a more traditional race report? We’ve got you covered here.

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