Ruth Winder’s bike throw nicks victory in Brabantse Pijl after Demi Vollering celebrates over the line
Ruth Winder thought she was second. So did everyone watching the thrilling finale in Brabantse Pijl. But when the officials viewed the photo finish images, they designated Winder as the official winner of the 6th edition of Brabantse Pijl Dames.
Winder’s bike throw in the sprint from the six-rider breakaway proved to be instrumental in snatching the victory from Demi Vollering (SD Worx), who threw her arm into the air in an early celebration. Vollering had everyone convinced – even Ruth.
But the photo finish images revealed otherwise. By millimetres, Winder claimed the victory. It was that close.
“I am extremely surprised. I thought Demi had it! We were sprinting, and I threw my bike at the line, but she really celebrated, so I thought, ‘congratulations,’” exclaimed Winder. “She’s an amazing bike rider, and just for me to be second, I was really excited with. For me, to win is just…yeah,” Ruth trailed off at a loss for words. “I came to this race really wanting to be my best, and in the end, it played out really well for me. This feels really good. The team has been very good so far, and I have had my best preparations this year that I have ever had. I am really excited that I could do it today.”
It was the first win of the season for Ruth Winder, and the fourth for the Trek-Segafredo Women, who have been firing on all cylinders this year. Once again, the team was cohesive in their effort.
“At the start, we had Lauretta (Hanson), Shirin (Van Anrooij), Lucinda (Brand), and Elynor (Bäckstedt) all watching the front and really making sure that Tayler and I were safe,” said Winder. “It was a really hard circuit with so many short climbs coming back-to-back-to-back on each other.”
When the action kicked off in the latter part of the race, Tayler Wiles and Lucinda Brand quickly covered the initial moves. Ruth waited, then picked the right moment.
“It was really hard coming through the finish with one lap to go, and I saw Annemiek van Vleuten setting up her teammate Leah Thomas. I was keeping an eye on Leah as she’s a fellow American, and I know she’s really strong, so I was on her wheel. They created this breakaway of six really strong riders, and there were enough from the big teams, and we were really working well together right away. Everyone was committed in the breakaway to roll through,” explained Winder.
The six riders grew their advantage over a minute that was never challenged in the final 12 kilometres. But a tough uphill kilometre to the line still had to be navigated. With the expert guidance from a former World Champion sprinter, Winder played the ending perfectly.
“I just had to be super patient in the finish, which was super hard for me; I really wanted to attack them all too soon! Explained Winder. “But I had Giorgia (Bronzini, director) in my ear, and she was saying to be patient, and it worked – by a centimetre!”