Top ten finish for ORICA-AIS after a crash effected day

Sat 23 Apr 2016

33-year-old Annemiek Van Vleuten finished in a respectable ninth place in today's action packed 33rd edition of EPZ Omloop van Borsele, a race plagued by crashes for the ORICA-AIS team.

The Dutch rider had an impressive ride, after being caugh in a crash with Lizzie Williams in the closing stages. She showed great determination to rejoin the leaders and still sprint into a top ten position.

With strong winds and constant attacking, the UCI 1.1 category race was certainly a dramatic day out, resulting in a reduced bunch sprint finish won by Barbara Guarischi (Canyon-Sram).

"It was one of those epic races," explained sport director Gene Bates. "From kilometre two the race split up and it continued to do so the whole day."

"The girls rode well together and when the race all came back together we were in really good position with four in the front group.

"It was looking really good for us, but then we had a bit of bad luck coming in the final. The wind was incredibly strong, Loren Rowney got blown off the road then Lizzie crashed and Annemiek went over the top of her. At that point suddenly were then down to one rider, Sarah Roy left in the front.

"Annemiek had a hard chase to rejoin the front group so she was pretty cooked after that, but she still tried her best to get away. Sarah tried to look after herself for the sprint, but unfortuntaley she also got caught out in a crash near the finish line. 

"In the end it was just one of those days, it looked like it was all going really well but then it just didn't go our way in the final. The girls are all ok after their crashes and will now recover ready to race again tomorrow."

How it happened:

136kilometres of fast, aggressive racing awaited the riders as they took to the start line in s'Heerenshoek.

Previous editions of the race had shown the peloton significantly split in the opening stages. The wind has played a key factor in causing this, but also a tight left hand turn onto narrow lanes within the first three kilometres of the race always causes gaps.

As predicated within the first lap the peloton has shattered into several groups and as the race passed through the finish line for the first time, a group of 35 riders led the way, including ORICA-AIS riders Williams and Van Vleuten. 

After 50kilometres of racing through the twisty, open roads, the leading group's advantage began to drop and the second chase group consisting of 23 riders eventually bridged across, making a large leading bunch. 

More and more riders rejoined as the pace at the front slowed and the front of the race now contained around 80riders all back in contention. 

Once the intial four larger 24.3kilometre laps were completed and the race headed into four final 9.9kilometre laps, two riders Evy Kuijpers (Lensworld-Zannata) and Iiona Hoeksma (Parkhotel-Valkenburg) attacked and rapidly grew their advantage out to one minute. 

The motivated ORICA-AIS squad felt the danger with Rowney leading the chase to bring in the duo as the race entered the final important closing stages. 

The race really began to heat up with various groups going off the front and then slowly reeled back in, with ORICA-AIS attentive near the front working to be present in each of the moves.

The wind picked up as another group of around 20 riders jumped clear heading into the final lap, with Roy and Van Vleuten there representing the Australian outfit. Effected by numerous crashes in the windy conditions the race proved a challenging ordeal.

The race came down to a reduced bunch sprint with Van Vleuten finishing in ninth place after a tough chase back, with Barbara Guarischi (Canyon-Sram) claiming the victory.

ORICA-AIS are back to work tomorrow for another one-day race, this time in Belgium for Dwars door de Westhoek.

EPZ Omloop van Borsele results:

1. Barbara Guarischi (Canyon-Sram) 3:29:28
2. Christine Majerus (Boels-Dolmans) ST
3. Floortje Mackaij (Liv-Plantur) ST
9. Annemiek Van Vleuten (ORICA-AIS) ST