In his own words: Martin Barras reviews stage 3 at Energiewacht Tour

Sat 11 Apr 2015

Former Australian champion Gracie Elvin has rounded out the top ten at the Energiewacht Tour on the third stage in Stadskanaal.

For the first time this week, the Dutch weather threw some curveballs at racing with wind and rain promising to do it’s best to break up the peloton unlike the previous two road stages that have resulted in big bunch sprints.

And it delivered.

The third stage was won by Kirsten Wild (Hitec Products) from a breakaway of eight.  Earlier in the day, the break was 12-riders strong, including ORICA-AIS’ Melissa Hoskins, but the 24-year-old was one of three riders who lost touch coming into the finishing circuit.

Sport director Martin Barras gives us his report on the day’s racing:

Different people like different things. I like Dutch racing (although I hated it as a rider, but that is a whole different story). Yesterday I had promised the girls that ‘the fun starts tomorrow’.

I did not lie!

The course had us starting in our host town, StadsKanaal, right on the canal itself, and head out through to next town where it veered north briefly to follow another canal. From there on it went through the farmers fields onto the dijks that Holland is so famous for: a narrow path up above the fields. Always exposed to the wind!

The weather lived up to the billing to: winds of 35 km/h with gusts up to 50 km/h guaranteed that the bunch would be under pressure from the gun. Add rain after the first hour of racing and dropping air temperature and you had the makings of a classic.

The field split into four groups as soon as we hit the second canal. 12riders were off the front and we had Melissa Hoskins making that group. The collaboration was good and soon this front group was out to 1 ½ minutes.

Behind, the three groups left reformed and the resulting bunch got organised with many teams now chasing a front group in which they were either excluded or under-represented in.

At kilometre 30 this chase took on more impetus and a slimmer 16rider chase group was formed. Loes Gunnewijk and Gracie Elvin made it and were working hard to close the gap.

After another 30km of chasing, the gap was reduced to 15seconds. By then many teams took their riders off the chase, instead choosing to try to launch those riders across the gap to improve their odds. This failed miserably for all concerned, as all solo attempts across this gap detonated without a sound in the howling wind and the chase fell apart and started going backwards. Day done for all except the front girls.

Meanwhile, at the front, Mel was busy riding with the group, to keep herself out of trouble. Unfortunately, a few girls started sitting which prompted Boels Dolmans to use their numeric superiority in the break to “put it in the gutter” and shell a few riders: Mel was one of those.

The eight survivors made it together to the finish and Kirsten Wild (Hitec Products) won the day.

For us it was a lesson in fighting for your position. The ‘good’ news is, we race again tomorrow, on the Island of Borkum, in conditions essentially similar to todays (except it will be dry). This will provide the opportunity to amend our racing!

Until then,
Martin Barras.