Previews: Omloop van Borsele and Borsele ITT

Thu 18 Apr 2013

Last year Gracie Elvin, riding for the AIS, had her best European result to date at the Omloop van Borsele road race when she stepped onto the second step of the podium. This year ORICA-AIS will bring a strong six rider squad to Holland in hopes of victory in Heerenhoek. Kirsten Wild, Dutch sprinter and four time back-to-back winner of Borsele, (Argos-Shimano) will be the rider teams look to isolate. When brought to the line in a field sprint, Wild has repeatedly been victorious. The challenge for ORICA-AIS and every other team will be getting a break up the road without the powerful sprinter.

As is typical in Holland, the roads features narrow, flat roads exposed to the elements. Riders will be pelted by the wind and possible rain. The roads will feel even narrower when 33 teams fight for position at the front of the race.

Gracie Elvin shares her thoughts on the demands of the race.

Q: How did the race unfold last year when you rode yourself onto the podium?

Last year I rode with the national team. In our pre-race meeting Marv [Martin Barras] pointed out that every year before this there had been a breakaway go very early and stay away until the finish. As soon as the race started I shot straight to the front. Within only a few kilometres I looked behind and there was a big gap to the bunch. I put my head down and worked hard, and we stayed away! The wet conditions definitely added to the nature of the race. I had never been so cold and miserable in my life!

Q: What challenges will you face on this typical Dutch course?

Last year we saw rain for the entire race, and many people suffered in the dangerous and freezing conditions. Almost all the roads were super narrow farm roads, so positioning from the beginning was crucial. If the weather stays clear, the high chance of wind (it is Holland!) will force breaks in the peloton as well. Though it is pancake flat, the chance of a breakaway is high so we all have to be alert and ride focused the whole time.

Q: In a flat race such as Borsele, Kirsten Wild has proven over and over again to be hard to beat. What will ORICA-AIS need to do to beat a rider like her?

I think it's fair to say that no team, including us, wants to come up in a sprint against Kirsten Wild. She has truly shown her strength so far in the flatter races. For us, a small breakaway would be ideal as any one of us is strong and quick against most riders. If it comes to a bunch sprint, we are becoming more and more confident as a unit to deliver our own sprinters to the line first. A good organised train for Nettie [Annette Edmondson] or Mel [Melissa Hoskins] is what will win us the race in this situation.

Q: If the race does comes down to a bunch sprint, what will the lead out train need to do to deliver an ORICA-AIS rider to the line?

Apart from a switch back corner at the start of the lap, the course is not really very technical. For us to be successful in a bunch sprint, we will need to properly organise our train and be patient before leading the charge in the last few kilometres. The roads are quite open and exposed so if we go too early we will only be helping the other teams.

Q: Borsele comes the day before Dwars door de Westhoek. Will this affect the way teams race?

You might see some of the stronger riders sitting back to conserve energy on the day as Borsele is only a 1.2 and Westhoek is a 1.1 However, for our team, a race is a race and we always aim to win. We will try a few strategies in the race with only this one aim in mind!

ORICA-AIS for Omloop van Borsele:

Amanda Spratt (@amandaspratt)
Annette Edmondson (@nettieedmondson)
Gracie Elvin (@gracieelvin)
Loes Gunnewijk (@loesgunnewijk)
Melissa Hoskins (@melissamhoskins)
Sunguen Gu (@eun1709)

Before ORICA-AIS line up for the road race on Saturday, Shara Gillow and Loes Gunnewijk will contest the Borsele individual time trial. The race against the clock was a late addition to the team's schedule. The stand alone race, although not part of the UCI calendar, affords riders a unique opportunity to hone their time trialling skills in a race setting.

Just days ago Shara Gillow was told that the 19.5 kilometre time trial was being added to her schedule. A time trial specialist, Gillow was excited to receive the news.

“I did the time trial last year and I’m looking forward to racing it again this year,” said Gillow. “It’s a lot of fun. I really enjoy time trialling – I want to get better because I like it so much.”

One day events like this one provide cyclists the opportunity to focus on specific time trial skills without the worry of compromising results within a tour. However, for most time trial specialists their approach to contesting ‘the race of truth’ doesn’t differ between a one day race or tour.

“For me a time trial is a time trial regardless if it’s part of a tour or a one day race,” said Gillow. “With that being said, I will not be lining up for the road race the next day, so I will be able to put 100% effort into the race. Borsele is dead flat with lots of corners and open roads. It is similar to the World Championship time trial course in Italy in September, so it will be a good test for me.”

“A few days ago I essentially did a 60 kilometre time trial at Gelderland when I spent the second of half of the race in a solo breakaway,” added Gillow. “I was caught just three kilometres from the finish. Despite the disappointment of not getting the win, the effort was great practice for Borsele. I hope to do really, really well.”

ORICA-AIS for Omloop van Borsele Time Trial

Shara Gillow [@sharagillow]
Loes Gunnewijk [@loesgunnewijk