Emma Johansson Sprints to Second on Lotto Belisol Tour Stage TwoSat 24 Aug 2013
Typical Belgian weather and obstacles greeted the women’s peloton for stage two of the Lotto Belisol Tour. Wind and rain complicated an already challenging 12.2km circuit around the start/finish town of Angreau. Following nine laps full of corners, cobbles, undulating roads and a narrow bridge, Kirsten Wild (Argos-Shimano) bested Emma Johansson to the line. Rossella Ratto (Hitec Products UCK) rounded out the podium.
“It was another good ride by Emma to run second,” said Sport Director Dave McPartland. “The last 5km of the circuit were the same as the final 5km of the time trial yesterday, so it was the uphill sort of finish that typically suits Emma. It’s hard to beat a rider like Wild on flat roads. Emma stood a better chance today, but Wild was faster. She deserved the win.”
The circuit race was fast from the gun, and the reduced bunch that took shape contained the riders able to maintain contact despite the constant aggression. ORICA-GreenEDGE was one of several teams that repeatedly launched riders up the road in the hopes of thinning the field ahead of the projected sprint finish.
“It was a very wet day, and it was raining hard at the start,” noted McPartland. “Everybody always wants to be at the front on a day like this. I told the girls we needed to be up there all day.”
“They were prepared for full gas at the beginning,” McPartland continued. “In the end, it was a race of attrition. We tried to split the bunch at front, and other teams seemed to have the same idea. We were in every move. If something went, we were in it or ready to bring it back. With the number of moves we initiated, it’s fair to say we were the most aggressive team.”
Having won the team time trial yesterday, Specialized-lululemon started the stage in the enviable position of occupying the first six spots on the overall. Eager to keep Ellen van Dijk in the race leader’s jersey, they shut down all threatening moves, using up riders ahead of the finish to keep the race together.
“Nothing stuck, but we had a few other teams uncomfortable at times,” said McPartland. “In the end, Specialized used up Evie Stevens, Taylor Wiles and Trixi Worrack. Our girls jumped up a few places on the overall although they didn’t gain much time.”
Specialized-lululemon continues to occupy the three overall podium positions with van Dijk tied on time with her teammate Lisa Brennauer and Carmen Small 20” back in third. Emma Johansson is best of the rest in fourth place, 29” behind van Dijk while Loes Gunnewijk and Gracie Elvin ended the day in fifth and sixth place at 35” and 48” respectively.
“The girls are all feeling good, and that’s the most important thing we took out of today,” said McPartland. “Today’s stage was the calm before the storm, I reckon. Stage three is flat. We’re expecting a bunch sprint but we’re ready for anything.”