Emma Johansson Rounds Out the Novilon PodiumSun 16 Mar 2014
Emma Johansson rounded out the podium at Novilon Euregio Cup. Kirsten Wild (Giant Shimano) won the nine-up sprint ahead of Shelley Olds (Ale Cipollini). Johansson was one of the most consistent rider in the peloton across the three Drenthe races, delivering three top ten finishes for ORICA-AIS. Loes Gunnewijk also had a chance to shine on the podium, winning the cobble jersey.
“We were confident in Emma in the finish,” said Sport Director Gene Bates. “It was tight and technical at the end, which seems to be the sort of finish she likes. Loes showed her strength on the cobbles yet again to take the cobble jersey for the second time this week."
The peloton was in a constant state of flux over the four hours of racing as numerous attacks and course obstacles served as launching pads for splits. The race repeatedly broke apart and came back together, and while none of the early splits created the race winning move, they repeatedly reduced the size of the front bunch.
The initial split came ahead of the first cobblestone section. The second group managed to rejoin the leaders but fell off the pace again over the cobbles. It was gruppo compatto yet again past the cobbles where Amanda Spratt sprang from the bunch to take sprint points.
The peloton split again on the run-in to the VAM-berg, came back together before the base of the climb and broke into six small groups before the summit. From the six groups, three larger groups would take shape. Eventually, the three would merge, break apart and merge again. Finally, following the third sector of cobbles, a front group of 50 emerged from the constant splits. Five ORICA-AIS riders had made the selection.
“It was really pleasing to see the team bounce back after yesterday,” said Bates. “We raced aggressively and were on the front foot going home. We still had five riders in the front group at 30 kilometres, which gave us a lot more opportunity to attack the race than we had yesterday.”
The leading group would split two more times. Twenty four riders survived a fresh wave of attacks that saw Audrey Cordon (Hitec Products) slip up the road. Alone out front, Cordon gained a maximum advantage of 40” before the reduced bunch reeled her back into their fold. With Cordon caught, Specialized-lululemon pushed the pace, and an eight rider leading group took shape.
“When there was 20 rider front group there at the end, we had Shara [Gillow], Loes [Gunnewijk] and Emma in the move,” Bates explained. “When that last group of eight riders went in the last ten kilometres, we had Emma in there – which was excellent.”
“Obviously with Kirsten Wild in the group, Emma was looking to get up the road,” Bates added. “We didn’t want it to come down to a sprint. She had a decent crack at getting away but couldn’t manage anything with staying power. Specialized attacked as much as they could, and a few others got in on the action, too – but it wasn’t of any use today.”
Wild successfully fended off all attacks in the closing kilometres. First to open the sprint, she handily won by two bike lengths.
“Emma was beaten by two quicker riders today – two pure sprinters,” said Bates. “We can’t be disappointed with that. It was a great result and a great team effort.”