In His Own Words: Sport Director Martin Barras on Westhoek

Mon 22 Apr 2013

Despite aggressive racing by ORICA-AIS over the hellingen that peppered the route of the final spring classic, Dwars door de Westhoek ended in a bunch sprint won by Jolien d’Hoore (Lotto Belisol). Nettie Edmondson was the team’s top placed rider in ninth place. In his own words, Sport Director Martin Barras regales with tales from the day.

West Flanders lived up to expectations. The Dwars door de Westhoek was held in the small town of Boezinge and offered the usual mixture of concrete block roads, crashes, punctures and mechanicals, livened up with a generous amount of farm dust, a few ‘hellingen’ early on and the lovely smell of frituur!

We were keen to have a bit of fun with an aggressive race and try a few new things. We used the early climbs to soften up the bunch. Whilst our attacks only chopped the bunch down to 40 riders rather than split the field, they enabled Emma Johansson to win the GPM classification after taking out three of the four hill sprints. From the hilly part of the course, the bunch proceeded back to Boezinge on small farm roads.

Despite a few attempts on our part to break the regrouped bunch up, it became clear that the will of the teams wanting a bunch sprint would prevail over that of over teams. We were prepared for this and had a plan to organise the sprint for Nettie. Unfortunately, she broke her rear wheel with about 15 kilometres to go. Although she was assisted back to the bunch by Gracie Elvin, the decision was then made to organise the sprint for Emma instead.

The sprint did not go to plan, and we ended up scattered within the bunch sprint, failing to deliver a proper lead out for Emma. Nettie was our best-placed rider in ninth, and Emma finished two sports further back.

It was a mixed bag for us today. Emma won the hills classification, and Gracie and Gu had some time off the front. On the other hand, Melissa [Hoskins] crashed about halfway into the race and will have a very uncomfortable flight home! But such is racing in Flanders and we would not have it any other way.