ORICA-AIS just miss the podium after racing aggressively on stage two of Energiewacht Tour

Thu 7 Apr 2016

Former Ronde van Vlaanderen winner Annemiek van Vleuten sprinted to fourth place today from a breakaway of seven riders on stage two of Energiewacht Tour.

ORICA-AIS riders Gracie Elvin and Van Vleuten used their experience and love for Dutch racing to successfully make the day's breakaway, which established within the first 15kilometres of the stage. 

The wind played a huge factor splitting up the field right from the start, eventually coming down to a select group sprinting for the victory into Winsum. Chantal Blaak (Boels-Dolmans) got the better of the leaders to take the win.

"It was brutal today," explained sport director Gene Bates. "We knew the wind direction, we knew it was going to be a tough stage before the start, and straight after the neutral section the race was blown to smitherines."

"We had Gracie and Annemiek represented in the front group of 15 riders. It would have been nice to have some more from ORICA-AIS in there but realistically it was such a hard start with the wind.

"The plan was to be aggressive and try and get away coming into the finish because it was very technical, so we knew how important that would be. The girls rode really, really well today. They raced perfectly and they were just beaten by three fast riders in the finish but they threw everything at it.

"It's a bit bittersweet to not make the podium with the way they are racing at the moment, especially today they did everthing well. If you can do a review at the end of the day and say your doing everything right, then it's just a matter of time and I'm confident it will happen for them soon."

How it happened:

The rain poured down all morning as riders took to the start line for stage two of the Energiewacht Tour. To the peloton's relief the rain stopped and blue skies arrived, however the race still brought challenging conditions with wide, open roads and strong winds to contend with. 

As soon as the start flag dropped teams got into formation and the race began to split up. As the peloton twisted and turned on the narrow roads, groups were strung out in the gutter and the race was on.

A group of 15riders established a gap including 33-year-old Van Vleuten along with former Australian champion Elvin representing ORICA-AIS. With seven different teams represented in the front split, the group worked together to rapidly increase there lead with every lap they completed. 

As the breakaway closed in on the final laps, the attacking began with breakaway's advantage out to two minute 45seconds. Van Vleuten and Elvin attacked together in an attempt to get away but they were not given freedom for long.

A group of six riders including Elvin again, were able to gain an advantage over the remaining breakaway riders with 30kilometres to go. Looking like a move that could stay away with each of the six riders representing different teams with teammates controlling the race behind, the six girls had a 30second lead as they crossed the finish passage for the final time. 

Behind, Van Vleuten worked with two other riders to successfully bridge across to the leaders, making two ORICA-AIS riders represented in the front group of seven with only ten kilometres remaining. Only Lucinda Brand (Rabo-Liv) was the only rider in the front with out another teammate.

As the seven leaders approached the technical finish, Van Vleuten tried a final attempt to break free as planned but wasn't able to get a gap. The race concluded with a sprint between the leaders into Winsum, with Van Vleuten just missing out on the podium finishing in fourth place as Blaak sprinted to the victory. 

After an aggressive race, present in almost every attack, Elvin was awarded the blue combative jersey and will wear it tomorrow for stage three, a longer 131.9kilometre stage from Musselkanaal to Stadskanaal.

Energiewacht stage 2 results:

1. Chantal Blaak (Boels-Dolmans) 2:55:40
2. Lisa Brennauer (Canyon-Sram) ST
3. Ellen Van Dijk (Boels-Dolmans) ST
4. Annemiek Van Vleuten (ORICA-AIS) ST

General Classification after stage 2:

1. Chantal Blaak (Boels-Dolmans) 3:09:06
2. Ellen Van Dijk (Boels-Dolmans) +0:06
3. Lisa Brennauer (Canyon-Sram) +0:11
6. Annemiek van Vleuten (ORICA-AIS) +0:21