Belgian champion D’hoore takes eighth place in her debut for Mitchelton-SCOTT at OHN

Sat 24 Feb 2018

The European season got underway today with Omloop Het Nieuwsblad where Belgian champion Jolien D’hoore finished in eighth place in her debut race for Mitchelton-SCOTT.

Unlike previous editions, the 122kilometre race concluded with a large group sprint in Ninove, despite the addition of the challenging Muur van Geraardsbergen. It was Christina Siggard (Virtu-Cycling) who took an unexpected victory, beating many race favourites to claim the 2018 title.

Nervous and attentive peloton

The first 60kilometres of the race saw multiple attacks but with it being the first European race of the season, the peloton remained all together with team’s not wanting to risk giving riders any freedom. It wasn’t until the first cobble climb, the Molenberg, where the race finally split into groups but soon after regroup once again to make a small front group of 70riders.

Late and only breakaway

After the Berendries climb, with just 35kilometres to go the race began to light up and Amanda Spratt was able to jump away with eight other riders. The combination looked promising with many of the main teams present and by the time they hit the Tenbosse the leaders had a 50second advantage.

Iconic Muur van Geraardsbergen

As the race approached the decisive and hardest climb of the day, the Muur van Geraardsbergen, the breakaway of nine riders where rapidly reeled back and the fireworks began. Annemiek Van Vleuten led second wheel over the top of the climb as the peloton shattered behind.

After another re-grouping within the final 10kilometres after the Bosberg, a headwind saw the race eventually concluded with a bunch kick. 

Jolien D’Hoore - Eighth place finisher

“I felt quite good today, I tried to save as much energy as I could over the hills. Everybody in the team sticked to the plan and the girls were all very strong. Of course I would have liked to win for them but I ran out of legs the last 300metres.”

“We communicated well for our first race together and we were all up there in the final. I’m very proud to be a part of this strong team and the best is yet to come for sure.”

"It was a hard race and Spratty tried to split up the bunch a few times but the wind was to the disadvantage of any breakaways. The wind played a bigger role than the hills today, so after the Bosberg everything came back together.”

“Things were looking good but it was not meant to be today, unfortunately. Hopefully I can pay back the girls very soon for their hard work.”

Amanda Spratt

"It was great to get the European season underway. Even though we have already done a month of racing in Australia, lining up at Omloop Het Nieuwsblad always gives you the feeling the season is really starting now. There are always a lot of nerves, it’s the first chance to see people in new teams and get a feel for how everyone is going. It’s a great feeling and was special to finally start racing with Jolien as well."

"My job today was to create a breakaway situation on the climbs after the longer cobbled section. At first I was away with two riders but we were caught. The second time I attacked it created a front group of nine. I thought this had the potential to gain a lot of time but there was such a strong headwind that the gap never really got out that far. There was also not a lot of cohesion in the group, so coming into the Muur I knew that we would be caught and that we should still stick with the team plan."
"I felt good today. I was a little unsure beforehand as I have really backed off the intensity since Australia and I am taking a slower approach into the Spring this year with my main goals not until the Ardennes in April. I felt strong on the climbs and on the cobbles too, so it gives me a lot of confidence that things are on track with still a lot of improvements possible."

Omloop Het Nieuwsblad results:

1. Christina Siggard (Virtu-Cycling) 3:35:20
2. Alexis Ryan (Canyon-SRAM)
3. Maria-Julia Confalonieri (Valcar PMB) 
8. Jolien D´Hoore (Mitchelton-SCOTT) 

Photo courtesy of Getty images