Johansson second as ORICA-AIS return to racing at Boels Rental Hills ClassicFri 29 May 2015
Swedish champion Emma Johansson has put ORICA-AIS on the podium in their first day back racing after a mid-season training camp at the Boels Rental Hills Classic today.
Johansson finished second from a late break of five riders that formed on the final asecent of the famous Cauberg climb inside the last ten kilometres.
It capped off an aggressive day of racing for the Australian outfit, after Oceania time trial champion Katrin Garfoot spent the day in all the main moves.
Read about the race, courtesy of sport director Martin Barras:
So close! So close!
It’s no secret that we have been pining for a win for a while now. Going into today’s 12th edition of the Holland Hills Classic, we were upbeat and confident about our chances.
Emma was the returning champion and we were just coming out of a very successful training camp in Tuscany.
We spoke about the basics we needed to cover and how to use the pressure that Boels Dolmans would feel, as the “host” team to the event, to our advantage.
As we set out for the 131km journey through the Dutch Mountains we had a quiet confidence in our ability.
The start was subdued by one hour of solid head wind and it is not until we reached the fifth climb of the day (the Camerig at km 46) that things hotted up. After a few attacks over the climb, the first proper break of the day went with seven riders, including our own Katrin Garfoot. All major teams were represented and we were very happy to back the move as Katrin has been on form for a month now and was suited for the hilly course ahead. The bunch almost instantly stopped chasing and the break gained 3’30”over the next 20km.
Boels Dolmans changed their mind about the break and started looking for allies to pull the gap back. We were not interested as were still happy with our situation. The bunch split into three groups around the 80km mark, with a first group containing all the lead riders of various teams. This stifled the chase and the bunch re-formed, by which point Boels Dolmans decided to do away with it and parked their team at the front of the group to drive the chase.
Our job was now two fold: keep Katrin off the front until we entered the finale of the race (at the foot of the first passage of the Cauberg at km 108) and mark the inevitable counter attack that would come around the time of the catch of the break.
Sure enough, the break got to the bottom of the Cauberg with a 40seconds lead and the counter attack formed with seven riders going across to the break. Once the catch was made, we had Emma and Kat at the front, racing against Armitstead, Van Dijk and Blaak (Boels Dolmans), Niewiadoma and Dejong (RaboLiv), Stultiens and Pieters (Liv Plantuur), Longo Borghini and King (Wiggle Honda), Ensing (Park Hotel Valkenburg), Zorzi and Cecchini (Lotto Soudal).
There was the usual flurry of attacks but it is not until the second and final passage up the Cauberg ( at 6 km to go) that the break split up for good; with Emma joining, Armitstead, Longo Borghini, Niewiadoma and Stultiens in the group that would eventually contest the finish. Emma and Longo Borghini understood that they needed to pressure Armitstead in order to have a chance to win but their attacks were actually negated by Niewiadoma, which provided Armistead with the only help she needed to ensure a group sprint of which she was the clear favourite. True to form, she won the sprint convincingly from Emma, whilst Katrin topped off her big day off the front by taking 7th place.
Sometimes it’s hard and bitter to come so close and yet not get the win. Somehow, tonight we sit comfortably with our race, as it clearly showed us we have the intent, the form and the capacity to earn a big one soon.
And we get to do it all over again this Sunday in Gooik-Gerardsbergen-Gooik. Can’t wait!