Bunch sprint prevails after early aggression in Borsele

Sat 25 Apr 2015

The EPZ Omloop van Borsele road race has concluded with its traditional bunch sprint, despite early action seeing a series of serious splits in the field.

Swedish champion Emma Johansson was the top finisher for ORICA-AIS, crossing the line in 24th position behind Kirsten Wild (Hitec Products) who claimed her fifth victory at the event. Track world champion Melissa Hoskins was not far behind Johansson in 26th position.

“We knew there would be action early, it happens every year,” sport director Gene Bates said. “The race starts, no neutral, you get two kilometres on a big road and then you turn hard left pretty much onto a bike path.”

“We wanted Mel to have a good sprint in the finish. There was a bit of miscommunication and she got caught on the wrong side on the bunch and ended up timing her sprint really late.

“We keep having good positive rides. Everyone is doing the right thing and following instructions, we just need a bit of luck to bring the result with it.”

The race broke up pretty much from the gun as wet and windy conditions forced echelons on the road. The peloton was all but immediately in six groups, ORICA-AIS’ Johansson and Amanda Spratt successfully positioning themselves in the front group.

“The Dutch wind we have been talking about really blew up again this morning and as soon as we swung out of town it ripped the race to shreds,” Bates said.

“The very first split we had Emma and Spratty in the first group which was really good, and then it proceeded to come back together and split again for the first 80km,” Bates said.

“Each time we had one or two of the girls in the front group which is a really positive sign.”

As the race entered the local nine kilometre finishing circuit a large group of 65riders had formed at the head of the race.

Countless attempts to escape were denied on the final four laps, as Hitec Products worked hard to force the traditional bunch sprint.

“The plan from there was to be as aggressive as possible on the small laps to try to force a break,” Bates said.

Macey (Stewart) was the first one to try and she had a great attack. She did a great job to get to the circuits in the front group and then was on the attack pretty much straight away when we got there. She lasted five or ten kilometres out in front with three others riders before it got brought back.

“Then there was just a series of small attacks, but Hitec did a really good job of bringing it back together and leading out Kirsten Wild for the finish.”