Positive performance for ORICA-AIS in Omloop Van Het Hageland

Sun 28 Feb 2016

ORICA-AIS has put in another strong performance in the second race of the weekend, Omloop Van Het Hageland, with the Australian outfit showing their strength and depth by animating much of the 128km race.

Former Tour of Flanders winner Annemiek Van Vleuten made an big effort on the only cobbled climb creating a move with three other riders, however the whittled down peloton decided to reel in the four escapees almost instantly, setting up a courageous counter attack by Gracie Elvin.

"Annemiek got away over the cobbles which was good," explained sport director Gene Bates. "It really opened the bunch up and the after that Gracie countered. It was a risky move but Gracie was playing the teammate role by countering her and she needed more riders to jump across."

Similar to yesterday's race, Elvin found herself off the front of the peloton with one other rider Anouska Koster (Rabo-Liv) as the pair maintained a lead for over 40 kilometres of the race. 

"After it all came back we really tried to set things up for the others and be agressive coming into the finish," Bates explained. Annemiek tried many times and got a small gap but it was all brought back together."

"Roy was in a really good position for the sprint, but unfortunately dropped the chain 20metres to go.

"Today was a really good effort from the girls but a little bittersweet. Had it gone the way we had hoped then I'm sure she (Roy) could had sprinted onto the podium."

The attentive peloton were not happy for any moves to break free in the closing stages of the race with Marta Bastianelli (Ale-Cipollini) the eventual winner in a reduced bunch sprint.

Bates remained positive and is happy with where the team is at despite not coming away with the result they wanted after such hard work this weekend.

"They've shown really good signs and we are positive going into the races to come, we will take a lot of confidence out of this weekend," he concluded.

How it happened:

Another clear, bright day in Belgium welcomed the riders to the start line of the 128km race in Tielt-Winge. The relatively flat parcours for the first 30km of the race around Tielt-Winge resulted in a compact bunch, as the riders navigated through the twisty Belgium roads. The threat of a crosswind section kept the everyone on their toes, nervously jostling for position in the early stages which inevitable resulted in a significant split in the large peloton.

As the riders entered the cobble climb at 82km to go Van Vleuten showed her class, riding clear over the summit which created a move of four riders and looked to be promising. However it was not to be as the whittled down peloton chased fiercely and reeled the group in. 

This worked in ORICA-AIS' favour as it provided the perfect springboard for Elvin to launch a counter attack as she rapidly made ground on the diminished group. Hovering just over 30 seconds in front of the bunch, Elvin was joined after ten kilometres by Anna Koster (Raboliv) and the pair worked well together to increase the advantage to over one minute. 

With just two finishing laps remaining the peloton slowly closed in on the escapees ending their attempt for the day.

Soon after, the race heated up with 20km remaining. Attacks came one after the other, including multiple attacks from a fearless Van Vleuten, however they were given no freedom and the race looked more and more destined for a bunch sprint.

ORICA-AIS placed sixth and seventh with Sarah Roy and Van Vleuten respectively.

The next race for ORICA-AIS is Strade Bianche on Saturday 5th March; the first race in the new Women's World Tour Series.

Omloop Van Het Hageland Results:

1. Marta Bastianelli (ALE) 3:29:08
2. Leah Kirchmann (LIV) ST
3. Lotta Lepisto (BGA) ST
6. Sarah Roy (OGE) ST