A testing 122 kilometre long parcours awaited the peloton as they rolled out of Aarschot this morning, with 12 gravel road sections and numerous short climbs to contend with, including the climb to the citadel at the finish; it was set to be a hard day in the saddle.
From the flag drop there were several attacks but no one was able to get away as things became nervous over the opening two gravel sections, with a couple of crashes in the peloton. Through some good positioning work the team came through unscathed and eventually one solo rider managed to break clear, building up a one minute advantage. Things quickly came back together as the pace increased heading into another gravel section with 55 kilometres to go, where Franziska Koch and Julia Soek rode strongly together to make the eight rider attack. Yet, their advantage didn’t last long and soon after the race winning attack was made by Blaak who went solo.
The team rode well in the peloton together but there was a lack of cooperation in the group initially which allowed Blaak’s gap to grow out too far. Heading into the finale, Susanne Andersen, Pfeiffer Georgi and Franziska Koch rotated turns on the gravel section before Floortje Mackaij took over on the penultimate climb. On the last tough cobbled ascent up to the citadel, Lorena Wiebes dug deep on the punchy slope, sprinting to a very good third place for the team from the reduced chasing peloton.
“I really enjoyed the race today, especially with the gravel sections,” said Wiebes at the finish. “First we tried to attack to jump to the front of the race and then in the last lap we were setting the pace to try and close it. It’s a shame it was not enough, but the girls gave it their all. In the sprint I had a few problems and made a small mistake, but I’m still happy with the podium for the team.”
Team DSM coach Albert Timmer added: “I think we had everything under control in the first part of the race. There was a break around eight riders in, where we had Julia and Franziska which was good. Then on the climb to the citadel Blaak went and we weren’t able to follow. We kept on attacking behind to try and keep the speed up but then at one point it dropped out and we started to chase fully. I think Blaak was just the strongest in the race today, we tried everything we could. We managed to get third with Lorena in the end which was a nice result.”
|VAN DEN BROEK-BLAAK Chantal