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Australian Nettie Edmondson (Wiggle Honda) is on daily diary duty for Ella CyclingTips out of the Boels Rental Ladies Tour. The six-day stage race in Holland is Edmondson’s final bit of road racing of the season, and serves as important preparation for the team time trial at the 2015 Road World Championships in 19 days (not that we’re counting!). Racing alongside the teammates that she will race with in the team time trial in Richmond, Edmondson hopes to come out of the Dutch race unscathed and fitter than she was at the start.
The first stage of the Boels Rental Ladies Tour ended in a bunch sprint. Edmondson’s teammate Jolien d’Hoore, the Belgian national road champion, beat out Lucy Garner (Liv Plantur) and Lucinda Brand (Rabo Liv) to the top step of the podium. With the stage win, d’Hoore pulled on the race leader’s jersey. While a large bunch barreled toward the finish line in ‘s-Heerenberg, the huge injection in pace before the sprint caused small splits. Only 11 riders finished on the same time as d’Hoore.
Five kilometres from the finish, Edmondson was nearly involved in a crash. Although she managed to stay upright, she needed a wheel change, and with the incident happening at the pointy end of the stage one, Edmondson never saw the front of the race again.
In her own words, Edmondson describes the day.
I KNOW I’M IN HOLLAND BECAUSE…
Every race in Holland has a very similar feel. The bunch is huge. The racing is really crazy. The mood is frantic.
There are club teams mixed in with the big teams, which results in a large variation in ability out there both physically and technically. Some of the club riders are quite good and have no trouble nestling themselves at the front. Then there are other club riders without as much as experience. Problem is you don’t know who is who, so you have to stay attentive and toward the front always.
CHARACTERISTICS OF BOELS RENTAL HOLLAND LADIES TOUR
Holland Ladies Tour is one of the final races of the season, the final race for some teams, which means it’s the last chance for a lot of riders to get results. That adds an extra layer of urgency.
The terrain is also a bit interesting. Holland is known for being flat, and the racing is flat for the first four days, but then there is a hilly Cauberg stage on the last day. It’s a bit strange because it suits one type of a rider all week – and then suddenly it’s more for the climbers. The general classification usually changes drastically here on the last day.
Because the last day is completely different than the rest, breakaways can have a bit more success this week. Teams will gamble and let a rider get away if they’re confident they can take back that time on the final hilly day.
WIGGLE HONDA’S OBJECTIVES IN HOLLAND
This is the last race for us before the team time trial [at Worlds], and every rider from our team time trial squad is here. Usually there’s a team time trial in this race but not this year. Even without that, the race is a good opportunity to work together as a team. If it’s windy, we can do a team time trial at the front of the bunch to try to break things up. Basically it’s all about having a last hit out and a last bit of training in our legs before we head to America.
I know the team would like to win some stages, and we have plenty of riders who are capable as we saw today with Jolien. She’s an amazing sprinter, and she is so incredibly strong right now. Elisa [Longo Borghini] can take on the hills, so she’ll have her chance at the end of the week. For me, if there’s an opportunity to get into a breakaway or do something in the sprint, I’ll put my hand up, but my biggest concern is getting through the week safely and getting as much as possible out of the racing before Worlds later this month.
The weather was a bit average to start. It was spitting before our race, and you could see this big black cloud hovering above. Sure enough, it hit around 70 kilometres into the race. It was pouring and hailing so hard that it was a challenge to see where we were going, but it blew over quickly.
With the weather conditions, we waited to commit to a plan until we saw how things panned out with the wind. In the end, it wasn’t all that windy out there today. We had full faith in Jolien if it came down to a sprint, so by mid-race, we decided we were riding for her. From there, it was just covering moves all the way to the finish.
MY JOB TODAY
I was meant to cover break attempts and represent the team in the breakaway if anything significant went. I was also planning to help Jolien in the sprint, but I had a bit of an incident five kilometres from the finish, so I wasn’t able to be there in the end.
STAGE ONE COURSE DETAILS
We raced 111 kilometres in total. The stage was run largely over open, wide, smooth and fast roads. There were a couple of technical sections before we hit a finish circuit for three laps around. Each lap had two pitches in them, and one of those climbs was cobbled.
SUMMARY OF THE STAGE ONE RACE ACTION
As is always the case in Holland, it was a very hectic start – even in the neutral section. We hit the first technical sections around 19 kilometres, and there was a big crash that caught out a lot of riders – myself and a couple of my teammates included.
Because of the crash, the bunch split, and it took quite a few kilometres for everyone to regroup. Several of the favourites for the stage or the overall missed out – Lucinda Brand, Megan Guarnier (Boels-Dolmans), Pawlowska (Boels-Dolmans). They had to work hard to join back to the main bunch.
Katrin Garfoot (Orica-AIS) attacked 13 kilometres from the finish, which was on the last circuit lap. She stayed away alone for maybe five kilometres. Then, a small group of five, myself included tried to get across to her, but no one seemed interested in working. Elisa countered the catch, but nothing really happened there.
The climbs on the circuit could have been raced solidly, but teams just didn’t seem interested in breaking things up today. No one had a good dig. It was fine by us to let the race finish in a bunch kick because we have Jolien.
Five kilometres from the end of the stage, we were moving up on the outside of the peloton, and a girl in front of me swerved to the side and took out my front wheel. I broke a few spokes and buckled my front wheel. I went into the gutter and somehow managed to hold it up.
I was lucky to go off road because my wheel locked-up, and I ended up doing an endo. I reckon if I had been in the bunch, it would have caused a huge crash. That was my race over.
MY HIGHLIGHT TODAY
Jolien winning. Given our goals here, stage wins are a bonus – a very happy bonus!
MY BIGGEST CHALLENGE TODAY
Staying upright! As soon as the racing started, it was crazy. People were braking and screaming. It was noisy and nuts.
The last few races I’ve done have been much more relaxed than this. I was at Route de France recently, and that’s a completely different sort of racing. Everything is calmer. It was an abrupt welcome back to Holland.
Things did settle down throughout the race, but all the Wiggle Honda girls were lucky to keep it upright. Touch wood, we continue to stay on our bikes and off the ground throughout the week.
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Follow Boels Rental Ladies Tour
Like many of the Dutch races, the Boels Rental Ladies Tour has fantastic social media coverage, and the race website is full of all the information you’d want about the race. We’ve highlighted select resources below that will allow you to follow Boels Rental Ladies Tour live or catch up following each stage.