Third Place and GPM Winner for Emma Johnasson at Le Samyn

Thu 28 Feb 2013

Emma Johansson continued her Belgian podium performances with a third place finish in Le Samyn. Johansson was part of a three-rider chase group in pursuit of solo leader Ellen Van Dijk (Specialized-lululemon). The Swede took second in the three-up sprint to earn the final spot on the podium.

“I had the feeling that some of the other riders had a bit of racing from Het Nieuwsblad left in their legs,” said Johansson. “They weren’t going as strong today as they were there. I felt fresh, so for me, I was quite confident I could have a strong result.”

The first half of Le Samyn was a quiet affair. There were few attacks and no splits in the peloton until the second of four circuit laps in Dours.

“We didn’t attack or race aggressively at the start,” said Sport Director David McPartland. “Usually we’re happy to be the animators. Today, we wanted to let other teams dictate. No other teams were interested. This meant there was no early action and opened to door for a very negative style of racing in the second half of the race.”

Van Dijk attacked inside the penultimate lap and immediately opened up a gap.

“At the moment Ellen rode away, I was caught behind a crash,” explained Johansson. “When I came back, I saw that she was out front. I tried my best to jump across, but it was too late. I never made it any closer than ten seconds. After that, the distance between her and the chase just grew.”

Having missed out on the first attack, Johansson initiated the chase. Shelley Olds (TIBCO) and Elisa Longo Borghini (Hitec Products UCK) joined Johansson up the road.

“We went off the front to chase, but Shelley Olds wasn’t riding,” explained McPartland. “It was a huge let down. We had two chasing Van Dijk, and Shelley sitting on the back. In the end, they lost more than we lost because Shelley beat Emma at the finish. She could have been sprinting for the win instead of second place.”

“I told them it was all in,” added Johansson. “That if we didn’t chase hard now, it wasn’t going to happen. Elisa and I gave it a really good try, but it wasn’t enough. We couldn’t do it, and the gap to Ellen grew bigger.”

Van Dijk continued to increase her advantage until she crossed the finish line alone. Olds won the sprint for second ahead of Johansson in third and Longo Borghini in fourth. Tiffany Cromwell took out the sprint from a group 40-strong to slot into fifth place.

“That’s a promising results from Tiff again,” said McPartland. “It’s a really good effort.”

In addition to finishing on the podium, Johansson won the GPM competition.

“It wasn’t our intention to go for that – it’s a minor award with a cash prize,” explained McPartland. “Emma happened to be there for the first one, so once she took that, she decided she might as well go for the rest. She took first twice and second twice to win.”

ORICA-AIS races Omloop van het Hageland on Sunday It is the third Belgium classic of the European spring season.