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Jolien d’Hoore lined up as the defending champion at the Flanders Diamond Tour on Sunday in her first race since late April following a mid-season break. Picking up where she left off (which would be on the podium!), d’Hoore beat out compatriot Kelly Druyts (Topsport Vlaanderen – Pro – Duo) to the finish line in Nijlen. Lisa Brennauer (Velocio-SRAM) rounded out the podium.
“Today was a good day,” said d’Hoore in a team statement. “I didn’t expect to go so well already. I felt so good in the race. Maybe I did a bit too much, but I just wanted to have a good day as a preparation for the Women’s Tour. That’s why I raced so much. In the end I still had some power left to win the sprint, so I’m happy!”
The sixth of seven races that make up the Lotto Cycling Cup, the premiere Belgian series of one day UCI-ranked races, the Flanders Diamond Tour begins in Antwerp. The women’s peloton heads from Antwerp to Nijilen, covering 42 kilometres en route, before reaching Nijlen for six local circuit laps. Each lap of 13.7 kilometers includes two small climbs, which can cause riders to lose contact with the peloton but typically don’t dislodge the best sprinters.
“The course was pretty flat, so it was a bit of a quiet race,” noted d’Hoore. “But the speed was quite high, so that was good.:
The peloton arrived onto the local circuits as a single unit. The first reported attack came from Jermain Post (Parkhotel Valkenburg). Her time away from the bunch was short-lived, and Judith Bloem (RC Jan van Arckel) countered Post’s catch. When Bloem rejoined the peloton another solo rider attempted her hand at an escape. She too was caught – and so was each of the moves that followed. Audrey Cordon (Wiggle Honda), Elise Delzenne (Velocio-SRAM), Willeke Knol (Liv Plantur), Maaike Polspoel (Lensworld.EU – Zannata), Natalie Van Gogh (Parkhotel Valkenburg) and Christine Majerus (Luxembourg National Team) were the largest and most threatening escape of the day, slipping away from the peloton on the third of six laps.
Bloem rode away from the peloton again with two laps to go. It would be the day’s last break. The peloton swept up the lone leader just outside the five kilometre mark and readied for the sprint. Although d’Hoore only had three teammates in the bunch, she enjoyed their full support.
“Anna [Christian] rode really strongly today,” d’Hoore said. “Then we had Audrey [Cordon], who did an amazing job. She went a few times in the breakaway, and then she did a great job in the final for the sprint. Then Nettie [Edmondson] did a really good job leading me out at the finish. It was quite good for a small team!
Feature image is from d’Hoore’s win at Ronde van Drenthe.