Scandolara second from successful breakaway at Drentse8

Thu 12 Mar 2015

2015 Santos Women’s Tour champion Valentina Scandolara has sprinted to second from a success breakaway at Drentse8 in Holland today.

After an up and down start to the season, the ORICA-AIS outfit began the first of three Dutch races this week motivated and Scandolara delivered.

The Italian finished behind multiple world champion Giorgia Bronzini (Wiggle Honda) from an eight women break established after 110km of racing.

Sport director Martin Barras gives us his report of a successful day in the office:

My opinion of Dutch racing is simple: I like it, especially when it’s wet, miserable and windy!

We just finished racing the 138km Molecanten Drentse8 in Dwingeloo, in beautiful sun and fairly still conditions. We had to cover two large loops around all the villages forming the Westerveld community to then finish with six laps of a gnarly circuit around Dwingeloo.

As expected, things got off to a settled start. Every time the pace picked up, you could see riders coming off the back but no real damage being done at the front.

After 15km we entered the first critical race zone, expecting an echelon fight on narrow exposed farm roads and instead got a slow roll into a headwind. Pat (our mechanic) and I were getting bored and started foraging the car for food to complement the two crates of chips and mayo we polished before the start.

After a quick snack we went dormant, until the radio announced “one kilometre to go to the Military barracks sprint “. That got our attention as the first Dutch rider across that line would earn her and her team one day at military booth camp and Loes had threatened, if she won it, to not only take the riders but the staff as well. The tension was high, until the radio announced that Amy Pieters (Liv Plantur) had won: good on them, their staff all look young and fit!

Pat and I celebrated by getting stuck into a box of delicious chocolate covered Oreos. As the race continued to meander through the Drenthe countryside, across the short cobbled section that marked the end of the big lap and well into the second lap, it kept us sustained and busy.

Around 80 km in the radio finally broke “First break of the day, Anouska Koster (Rabo Liv), ten seconds up”. Pat got excited: “Great, a break going into our first passage over the cobbles!!!” I had to point out we had already covered the cobbles once and the look on his face spoke of surprise and a semi comatose state. The radio called the break over: we were just not getting the race we wanted!

As we entered the final circuit at km 93, I was reminded of Loes’ words about it: “It looks like a drunken man drew this on a map.” And sure enough, we started this twisting game of jump and brake. Before we knew it, the race was on fire and the bunch was detonating all over the place. The mood in the car picked up as well and we smashed through our bag of Intense Red Hot Chilli Chips: Fire at your fingertips.

The other one to have fire at her fingertips was Valentina Scandolara, eagerly patrolling the front of the race and immediately inserting herself into the break of the day, at kilometer 103. The break had seven other riders in it: Giorgia Bronzini (Wiggle Honda), Loren Rowney (Velocio SRAM), Emilie Moberg (Hitec), Heather Fisher (USA), Willeke Knol (Liv Plantur), Alice Arzuffi (Impa) and perennial favourite, Annemiek Van Vleuten (Bigla).

As both Dutch powerhouse teams Boels Dolmans and Rabo Liv had missed the break, the race hung in the balance for the next twenty kilometres, with the gap yo-yoing between ten and 55seconds due to the efforts of both teams. This effectively prevented any racing other than driving the pace at the front, until at 15km to go, the chase surrendered and the break finally rode away.

By then we had run out of food in the car and were desperately trying to get to the break, instead being trapped behind dropped groups on the narrow roads. We had visions of drinking champagne before dinner tonight as we knew how motivated Valentina was today!

In the end there was a few futile break attempts at the front but as the marking was heavy the group presented together for the final sprint. Valentina got second to Giorgia Bronzini, whilst Van Vleuten got third and the unfortunate Rowney crashed on the line and broke her collarbone.

I was contemplating a culinary wasteland for dinner tonight when Valentina returned to the car after presentations, sporting the usual bouquet alongside a yummy looking whipped cream and fruitcake.

I know I will end my day contempt. Can’t wait to see the mess Pat will make with the whipped cream and his Ned Kelly beard!

I am looking forward to champagne later this week!

Until then!