Van Vleuten opens up the classics with a podium in Omloop Het NieuwsbladSat 25 Feb 2017
ORICA-SCOTT’s Dutch rider Annemiek Van Vleuten raced onto the podium today in the 12th edition of Omloop Het Nieuwsblad.
The Dutch time trial champion set the tone for the team with a third place finish in their first European race of the season behind the solo winner Lucinda Brand (Team Sunweb).
ORICA-SCOTT were well represented in the front of the race with four riders making it into the crucial split over the Molenberg climb. Van Vleuten then made her way into a small leading group along with teammate Amanda Spratt.
“I am super pleased with the whole team effort,” explained sport director Gene Bates. “They did everything we spoke about today, they where at the front when they needed to be the rode on the front at the right times."
“When Ellen Van Dijk (Team Sunweb) and Elisa Longo-Borgini (Wiggle-High5) went away there were a little bit exposed but the plan was to always attack the Molenberg hard and they came over the top of that with four riders in the front and split the race in the cross winds afterwards. We had more numbers there than any other team so we were in a super position at that point.
“The girls put absolutely everything into it today and getting third in the sprint is a super effort for Annemiek and does justice to the work they did all day.
“The feeling we had last year was that we were doing everything right but not nailing the podium so it is a nice feeling to start our first race in Europe with a great result like this.”
How it happened?
On the chilly Belgium morning the riders assembled like previous editions at the Eddie Merkx velodrome in Ghent.
Within the initial opening kilometres one-solo rider Demmy Druyts (SPVL-Guill D’or) attacked and rode out to gain over a three minute advantage over the steady peloton, seemingly happy to let her hover out front in the early stages.
Once the riders arrived at Kluisberg climb, the first of many in close concession, the solo-rider was finally reeled back in and the action heated up with splits occurring over the top of the Cote de Tre and the famous Paterberg climb.
ORICA-SCOTT rode well to keep four riders in the front group as Longo-Borgini and Van Dijk got away and held a 40second lead.
Eventually Van Vleuten and Spratt jumped into a chasing group which finally joined the leaders and formed a front group of six. Brad attacked solo to go onto win the race with Van Vleuten finishing off the 122kilometre day in the spot.
Omloop Het Nieuwsblad results:
1. Lucinda Brand (Team Sunweb)
2. Chantal Blaak (Boels-Dolmans)
3. Annemiek van Vleuten (ORICA-SCOTT)
Photos courtesy of ©TDWsport.com