Tough day out at Novilon Eurocup for ORICA-AIS

Sun 15 Mar 2015

An individual effort of road captain Loes Gunnewijk has highlighted a tough day for ORICA-AIS at the Novilon Eurocup in Holland.

In unfortunate news, Swedish champion Emma Johansson crashed in the final sprint and has suffered a suspected broken collarbone.

Hoping to bounce back after finishing the first World Cup of the season with some disappointment, ORICA-AIS found themselves on the back foot early.

A strong group of 15 riders moved off the front in an aggressive start to racing and in a very rare sighting the team were without a representative.

“As soon as they dropped the flag we had about ten kilometres of echelons and the first group of 15riders formed,” sport director Martin Barras said.

They established a quick gap of 45seconds and despite the pressure from the chase causing the peloton to split, after 50km of racing the gap remained the same.

The first chase yo-yoed back in and out of the race, moving between 25 and 45seconds until they eventually made the catch to create a front group of about 40riders with 30km to race.

“We spent essentially the next 80km trying to bring it back, which was done eventually thanks in the most part to Loes Gunnewijk who made a fantastic effort to try to get us back in the race,” Barras said.

“Yes, we missed the break but she should be commended in terms of bringing the race back and keeping it under control in difficult circumstances.”

Once the two front groups re-formed the pressure remained on the gas as teams traded attacks in effort to break the race back apart, ORICA-AIS stuck to their race plan.

“Eventually when it was pulled back, straight away the attacks started again and we had Loes and Emma there,’ Barras said.

“Loes inserted herself in a couple of moves whilst Emma was looking to save herself to race on the circuit.”

Two riders, Taylor Wiles (Velocio-SRAM) and Iris Slappendel (Bigla Pro Cycling Team), escaped and were later joined by Lucinda Brand (Rabobank-Liv).

“Another break of three went and the chase was not organised as Boel Dolmans and Wiggle Honda were eyeballing each other as to who was going to commit to the chase,” Barras explained.

“Eventually Wiggle Honda organised their train and brought it back together with less than a kilometre to go for a bunch sprint.”

Kirsten Wild (Hitec Products) won the race ahead of Chloe Hosking (Wiggle Honda). Gunnewijk was ORICA-AIS’ top finisher in 36th.

“Unfortunately for Emma and the team, as she was contesting the sprint she hit the sidewalk and we suspect she has broken her collarbone,” Barras said.

“It’s obviously a very very unfortunate finish to a day where we saw a lot of spirit.”