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Ella columnist Chloe Hosking (Wiggle Honda) took her first UCI win of the 2015 season at the Marianne Vos Classic in Aalburg, The Netherlands on Saturday. The Australian won the sprint from a 12-rider group, besting race namesake Marianne Vos (Rabo Liv), who was racing with a broken rib, and Amy Pieters (Liv Plantur).
“This race wasn’t a target for me, but that’s generally when I get my results,” noted Hosking. “When I don’t have the pressure and I’m just like: ‘Let’s go out and race some bikes.’, that’s when I seem to get my best results. It was a really relaxed sort of team atmosphere today. We only started with four riders, so we treated it as a nice hit out before China.”
Previously known at the 7-Dorpenomloop Aalburg, the Marianne Vos Classic is 121km of pancake-flat racing. The route includes three 28km loops followed by three 11km loops. Vos has won six of the last eight editions of the race that passes through her hometown.
“It’s one of the last Dutch races we’ll do for quite awhile now,” said Hosking. “It’s dead flat, super windy, on dykes and quite technical. That doesn’t sound hard but when the roads are only wide enough to fit five or six girls across and you have a peloton of 200, it’s hard. It’s not the biggest race ever, but any race you win in Europe is big.”
Hosking said she and her teammates expected the race to split to bits, so their strategy involved vigilance at the front of the bunch.
“We knew it would split because of the wind,” she explained. “It over 35 km/hr or something like this. We knew we had to stay at the front. With only four riders, we weren’t really in the position to do an echelon. You risk killing too many riders that way.”
“I was so proud of the girls,” Hosking added. “They were all up there. They’re not necessarily known as echelon riders, but they were all there.”
The predicted split happened on the first large lap. Thirteen riders had made the selection. Under Hosking’s direction, Wiggle Honda immediately began to commit to the move.
“It was really random,” said Hosking. “I’m not exactly sure how it split, but around the 20km mark, there was a group of 13 or so with a small gap. That’s when I looked behind me and yelled to Eileen [Roe] and Elisa [Longo Borghini]. I yelled at them: ‘Yep, yep, yep. This is it.’ and they started to push the pace.”
Seeing Wiggle Honda work the break, other teams began to share in making the pace. When the gap swelled out to three minutes, it was clear that this was the race-winning move.
“We ended up with three from Rabo, three from Parkhotel, two from Orica (although Chloe McConville got dropped, leaving just Emma [Johansson] alone), three Wiggle and two Giant,” said Hosking. “We rode really well for the next 80km.”
Cooperation disintegrated in the final lap of the small circuit.
“The games started in the last 11km,” said Hosking. “It was seriously like a giant track race. We were really all watching each other. Obviously Rabobank was the main team to watch, so I said to the girls: ‘Alright, each of us on a Rabo.’ They did really well. Roxane Knetemann was really active, and Vos attacked a few times. We covered everything.”
Longo Borghini attacked just pas the two kilometres mark.. Her effort strung out the bunch and allowed Hosking to glue herself onto Vos’ back wheel.
“I was on Vos, but we were a bit far back with maybe 500 to go – somewhere around sixth and seventh wheel,” explained Hoksing. “And then Amy Pieters jumped. I knew we were too far back, so I jumped onto Amy’s wheel, and she took us through that last corner.”
“I was on Amy’s wheel and then Vos sort of came and boxed me,” Hosking continued. “At that point I was like: ‘Oh shit. I’m definitely going for a podium here – not the win.’ And then I was like: ‘No. You know what? I’m really going to give this a dig.’ I had to back off, go around Vos and sprint again. I couldn’t believe it when I went past her. I won by a fair bit as well.”
It’s a huge confidence boost for Hosking who has climbed onto several European podiums this season but had yet to reach the top step.
“It’s a really nice feeling to win after the girls rode so well and also to have a sprint like that to show the form is there and the training has been working,” said Hosking. “I haven’t felt that good in a sprint for awhile actually. I knew my power was good. I’ve been doing some moto sprints, but for that to transfer from training to racing is really nice.”
Hosking is especially proud of her result because it shows mental progress alongside the physical progress.
“I didn’t go too early,” explained Hosking. “I knew that there was a headwind and that I could go late. I stayed calm. I think that was the main thing I did right in the sprint. It’s something I’ve worked on a lot in my career.”
“When I was racing with Ina [Teutenberg], she would always tell me to stay calm,” Hosking continued. “Ronny [Lauke], my director when I was on Specialized, he would say the same thing. As an 18, 19, 20 year old, it’s not that easy. It’s something I’m definitely getting better at, and I think you can see that in my lead-outs with Jolien [d’Hoore]. I can guide her through, and it’s fine, but when I’m in that position, I tend to lose my head.”
“But today I didn’t,” she added. “And I won.”
HOSKING Chloe HOSKING Chloe Wiggle Honda Pro Cycling
|Wiggle Honda Pro Cycling||02:58:33|
VOS Marianne VOS Marianne Rabobank-Liv Woman Cycling Team
|Rabobank-Liv Woman Cycling Team||0:00|
PIETERS Amy PIETERS Amy Team Liv-Plantur