The Women’s WorldTour calendar got underway today with the now famous Strade Bianche, known for its leg-sapping hills and gravel roads. Rolling out of the start in Siena, the race got off to a tentative start with few attacks before the race burst into life. However, it took a long time before a rider was able to escape and the race then settled into a rhythm.
Floortje Mackaij and Franziska Koch were held up in crashes within the bunch, but both were unscathed and managed to return to the peloton before the proverbial hammer was put down. The team came forward en masse and rode strongly onto and over the gravel sections as the bunch ticked them off, riding well as a unit as the race headed into the final 30 kilometres.
Mackaij and Juliette Labous rode well to make the reduced front peloton before the group then completely exploded on the steep gravelled climb of Colle Piazuto, with Labous and Mackaij unfortunately losing contact with the head of the race. The duo worked well together in a chase group but weren’t able to return to the front of the race, with Labous first home for the team in the Piazza del Campo.
“It was a hard race today,” explained Labous. “We committed in the first section and were really well positioned in the front with Franziska and Leah doing great work there. Floortje was in a crash on the second section but came back when the race eased. On gravel section five, the race was on and I was able to follow a lot of attacks with Floortje. After that there was a crosswind section, where the break of eight went and we weren’t able to follow. Onto the next section of gravel section, we were in a good position with Floortje, Liane and I but the race really exploded. Floortje and I had already made a lot of effort and Liane didn’t have her best day so we couldn’t follow the attacks there. We fought to the finish and tried to make the best out of it, with Floortje and I finishing in the same group. I think we did a good job as a team and the form is getting better. Of course we want more and to get a result, but hopefully that will come in the next races.”Juliette Labous
Team DSM coach Albert Timmer added: “It was a tough race today. We positioned ourselves really well for the important points of the race and were always there as a team, so that’s a really positive point from today. Just on the hardest climbs we weren’t able to follow those at the front, which was a shame. I think in the race will help take us one step higher and we’ll build and continue on that for the coming races.”Albert Timmer, Team DSM Coach
|1||VAN DEN BROEK-BLAAK Chantal||SD Worx||3:54:40||400|
|2||LONGO BORGHINI Elisa||Trek-Segafredo Women||0:07||320|
|3||VAN DER BREGGEN Anna||SD Worx||0:09||260|
Photo Credit: Cor Vos