Q&A With Gene Bates on Omloop van Borsele

Sat 26 Apr 2014

Gracie Elvin was the top finisher for ORICA-AIS at Omloop van Borsele. The Australian National Road Champion sprinted to seventh place from a group of 14 riders that formed in the final lap of the five lap circuit race. Chloe Hosking (Hitec Products) outkicked Kirsten Wild (Giant-Shimano) and Ellen van Dijk (Boels-Dolmans) to the line.

Back at the race hotel, Sport Director Gene Bates fielded questions about the team’s day in Zeeland. Our questions and his response are below.

Q: Describe the early action. Was it the mass chaos that Loes Gunnejik predicted it would be in her preview

 Yes. From the gun, it was chaotic. It was super windy today. I’m talking blowing a gale. Riders had to deal with these winds over dikes, down the ridges and on narrow farm roads. It was really typical Dutch racing.

From the first two or three kilometres, the peloton goes from a big road to a narrow road. Inevitably, there are crashes here – as there was today. One kilometre later ther was another crash. We lost Loes in the first pile-up. Shara [Gillow] was tangled up in the second one and then Loes was caught behind. That put us on the back foot right away.

Q: Were Loes and Shara ever able to make it back to the bunch?

No, not really. Loes didn’t go down, but the whole road was completely blocked by the first crash, and she couldn’t go anywhere. Shara was the same with the second. The group that Shara was with got back on briefly but she never made it back to the front. Loes was with a group that lacked the power and cooperation to close the gap, so her race was over before it ever really started. It was disappointing for them both.

Q: Where did everyone else end up when the race split to bits?

Initially, the race broke into six groups, and it stayed like that for the first two laps – just six groups on the road chasing each other. It came back together in lap three, and there were more or less one or two groups for the next two laps.

Gracie was really active, especially in the later part of the race. She was launching lots of good attacks. She got into a reasonable move with two laps to go, but it got brought back. She had enough in the reserve to make the final move that formed with 15 kilometres left.

Q: How did the winning move take shape?

A Rabobank rider and Ellen van Dijk (Boels-Dolmans) were the two that started it. They went away first. A chase group of six went after them that included Chloe and Gracie. The break included a good mix of teams, and none of the rest were team leaders, so to speak, so we were quite pleased with the move. Gracie had a really good chance to play for the win.

Kirsten Wild (Giant Shimano) and a couple others moved across to the leaders when the gap went down to 20”. That obviously changed the dynamic for us. Of course, with less than five kilometres left to race, there’s nothing we could really do about it at that point. That was the move that was going to the finish.

Q: What does the team take away from the race?

The way Gracie raced was the biggest positive. She strong and smart, and she was rewarded in making the final moves. I think we’re going to see more from her as she continues to build her confidence.

In terms of the others, it was a disappointing day for Loes and Shara. Getting caught up in crashes is never fun for anyone. Nettie [Edmondson] and Mel [Hoskins] put in the best ride they could and just didn’t have the legs to be in the right position to go with the moves today.

The team rode well. We had a bit of misfortune. We’ll take a good result from Gracie and hope she continues to capitalize on her form in the next couple of races.