Emma Johansson Wins Cholet Pays de Loire with the Swedish National Team

Mon 18 Mar 2013

She needed an entire hand to tick off her podium finishes. A run of back-to-back third places at Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, Le Samyn des Dames, Omloop van Het Hageland, Drentse 8 van Dwingeloo and Ronde van Drenthe left Emma Johansson admittedly frustrated yet confident in her form.

Racing today with the Swedish National Team, Johansson rode herself onto the top step, winning the Cholet Pays de Loire Dames. Although not racing for ORICA-AIS, Johansson called us with a report on her day. In her words, she describes her first win of the season.

We were maybe the strongest team here today along with Team TIBCO. We had a really good feeling about what we could do, and we wanted to make the race hard. Beginning already during the first lap, we launched our attacks. Our goal was to make it hard for the rest of the riders.

TIBCO obviously wanted to keep the race together for Shelley [Olds]. While I understand their reasons, it got frustrating that they didn’t want to ride in any break. We’d get up the road in a move with two or three riders, and they would be there and just sit on. We would then have the choice of sitting up or carrying them to the finish. It was a really negative race in that regard, and I was surprised that they weren’t interested in getting in a break or working with us to reduce the size of the field.

We stuck to our plan and did everything we could to make the race hard. We never stopped attacking. At one point, Shelley, Audre Cordon (Vienne Futuroscope) and I went away. Shelley sat on as Audre and I traded pulls. I kept telling her that we wouldn’t stay away if she sat on, but she didn’t care.

A small group caught us from behind, and the race was back together. Audre attacked again, and she went away alone. I put in my last attack at three kilometres, and I came across to Audre with 600 metres left to race. I was feeling good, so I was confident of my sprint at the end. I won the sprint ahead of Audre, and a group came across the line one or two seconds behind us.

I’m happy with my ride. I showed that I was strong even after all my attacks and that I never gave up despite the negative feelings I had from the others who didn’t want to work. Mostly, I’m happy to win. It’s a good feeling to finally step on top. This is the second time I’ve won this race. I’ve only raced it one other time (2011), and I won then, too.

It’s a difference experience racing with the Swedish National Team than ORICA-AIS. It’s nice to be able to speak my own language. I think the language part is the biggest difference. We know we can shout across the peloton to each other and no one will understand what we’re saying. We can’t do that when we’re all speaking English.

I don’t have many opportunities to race with my national team, and it’s a great experience when I have the chance. I really like my Swedish team, and I really like my trade team. I’m happy racing with both, and I think it shows because I perform well in both environments.