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by Jeanine Laudy
February 28, 2016
Photography by Vélofocus
WOMEN'S CYCLING BROUGHT TO YOU BY ORBEA
What a day it was for Boels-Dolmans on Saturday. On both sides of the Atlantic, two of their riders gave stellar performances in very different circumstances. In the 7-Eleven Velodrome of Colorado Springs, Evelyn Stevens set a new UCI Hour Record, improving the one set by Bridie O’Donnell last month by over a kilometer. Meanwhile in Belgium, Lizzie Armitstead soloed to the win Omloop het Nieuwsblad and prove that she is not affected by the ‘rainbow curse’.
Armitstead explained afterwards that cooperation between her and fellow attacker Gracie Elvin (Orica-AIS) was hard to find: “It was really frustrating to me. I thought, well, we still have the numbers to play behind, so I’m not working if you’re not working. We stopped completely in the road and looked really stupid. But there was a slight drag in the road. I attacked Gracie, and I never looked back.”
Thirty seconds behind Armitstead, teammate Chantal Blaak won the chase group sprint, with Tiffany Cromwell (Canyon-SRAM) rounding out the podium in third place. Cromwell’s team worked hard to get Armitstead back, but the efforts were all in vain.
“We thought we could make it, but I knew she’d be strong today,” said Cromwell after the race.
Teammate Alexis Ryan explained some more about the team tactics for the race.
“There were four of us that were meant to protect Tiffany and Trixi Worrack. But halfway through, Trixi told us she wasn’t really feeling well, so I was still monitoring the front, but I also tried to recover a little bit,” said Ryan. “Then I made it in all the selections and coming into the final, there were two off the front at first. Then it was just Lizzie. We gave everything we had and Wiggle High5 was chasing along with us as hard as they could, but we couldn’t bring her back. She is really strong. Fortunately, Tiffany got into third so that’s pretty good.”
Although Wiggle High5 had lots of cards to play in this race, Chloe Hosking was their best placed rider in seventh place, which wasn’t what they came for.
“It was all together until the Côte de Trieu, then the group suddenly got smaller. Into the Paddenberg six or seven girls sort of got away, but were caught and nothing really happened until the Molenberg,” said Hosking. “It had become quite windy and although Ellen did get away, there were massive headwinds, so I think we caught her on the cobbles. That’s where Lizzie and Gracie attacked. And Lizzie just rode Gracie off her wheel! There was Rabo/Liv, us and Canyon-SRAM chasing, but she was still putting time into us, which is incredible.”
With a new arrival finish line, Hosking had to go for the line in unfamiliar circumstances. “We viewed the finishing straight on a video, but we didn’t recon it. So I didn’t really know where I was going.”
But all in all, Hosking looks back at the race positively. “I think it wasn’t a bad race for us, we had four girls in the front group. A good sign for the spring!”
Read more about the course of the race in yesterday’s race report and check out this wonderful photo gallery by Sean Robinson and Balint Hamvas of Vélofocus.