Johansson eighth in UCI World Cup opener

Sat 14 Mar 2015

Swedish champion Emma Johansson has finished eighth at the Ronde van Drenthe, the first UCI World Cup of 2015.

In an action packed final 20km, Emma Johansson was amongst a chase group of 12 riders who closed down a late break of four riders and were then joined by a second chase group to create an unexpected bunch sprint.

Wiggle Honda, with the numbers, dominated the finale stringing out the reduced bunch and delivering Jolien D’Hoore to the line. Johansson battled on for eighth.

It was a mixed day for ORICA-AIS, who began the day with a clear plan and after a strong start ended with some dissatisfaction at the result.

“We had a very productive plan and we stuck to it well,” sport director Martin Barras said. “We executed everything we wanted to do up until the circuits around the VAM-berg, the two final climbs of the race.”

“At that point, we lost our way and only had Emma in the front group with some other teams represented with three or four riders.

“Emma was obviously short of options in terms of what she could do so it was a day that ended up a little disappointing for us.

“The one beauty that we have is that we do a race very similar to what we did today, tomorrow, and we are counting on the fact that we have the opportunity to bounce back quickly.”

Narrow roads, road furniture, cobbles and three ascents of the VAM-berg climb characterised the first World Cup of the season.  Wind can also play havoc in Holland but the threat didn’t arise as the race started in calm but cold conditions.

The peloton navigated the first section of cobbles 59km into the race still in one piece, but shortly after the first attack of the day was made by Alena Amialiusik (Velocio – SRAM).

The solo attempt was unsuccessful but brought to life the peloton that soon split into pieces under the pressure. ORICA-AIS, were well represented at the front with Valentina Scandolara, Amanda Spratt and Loes Gunnewijk all helping to pushing the pace.

The race continued to split and rejoin until the final circuits featuring the VAM-berg climb. 

Four riders escaped off the front and looked to be threatening, but as they began to play games, a chase of 12, including Johansson, closed it down. 

Much to the surprise of many, a second group also rejoined the action at the front of the race before Wiggle Honda took control, dominating the sprint with sheer numbers.