Johansson in hard fought third at Le Samyn des Dames

Wed 4 Mar 2015

After an effort in a late breakaway caught in the final kilometre, Swedish champion Emma Johansson has fought on for third place at Le Samyn des Dames this afternoon.

The ORICA-AIS outfit started the day as defending champions and with a point to prove following a disappointing opening to their European season last weekend.

The result - a spirited and aggressive ride, with representatives across every move of the day.

“It was a lot better today,” Johansson said.  “Even before the race everyone was definitely up for something, being more in the front and trying to make the race the way we wanted it too.”

After a series of splits, many initiated by ORICA-AIS, the peloton was back together as riders entered the 25km finishing circuit for two laps.

As riders dropped from the back, two-time Australian champion Gracie Elvin attacked from the front.  The 26-year-old was quickly reeled in but it initiated movement and shortly after the lead group passed for the final lap, a breakaway of six riders, including Johansson, made a strong move that looked to be a winning one.

At 12km to race, the six riders had their maximum advantage of one-minute 10seconds before a fierce chase saw it disappear into thin air with less than a kilometre to go.

“I was quite certain that it was going to stay away,” Johansson said of the breakaway. “But the group came back from behind and caught us with five or six hundred metres to go which wasn’t really ideal but I still felt like I had some punch in the legs to go with the sprint.”

Recovering for the bunch kick finish, Johansson finished behind Chantal Blaak (Boels Dolmans CT) and Anna Van der Breggen (Rabobank-Liv Women Cycling Team).

“I thought I was in a good wheel in Chloe Hoskings wheel because she felt strong when we were in the breakaway but we started going a bit backwards which was surprising.

“It would have been nice to finish it off 100% but we are almost there, getting closer and heading in a good direction.”

Sport director Gene Bates praised the entire team efforts on a pleasing day on the road.

“The girls deserve a lot of credit for the way they handled themselves today,” Bates said. “They were the instigators in a lot of moves, especially when the race split into five groups in the crosswinds after 30km, they were the team on the front causing all of the harm.”

“Emma got the result certainly, and she had a great race, but the other girls, it could have easily been one of them out there in that move.

“All five were going in moves and that was the aim today, to get out there and be aggressive.”