Boels-Dolmans Cycling Team lines up for the 29th edition of International Thüringen Rundfahrt der Frauen seeking stage wins. The seven day German tour offers Romy Kasper and Ellen van Dijk a final tune-up ahead of the 2016 Rio Olympic Games. The duo will race alongside Chantal Blaak, Kasia Pawlowska and Demi de Jong.
“Nikki was meant to start but she’s sick, so we are five,” said Kasper. “Like always, our goals are stage wins. I think with the general classification, we’ll have to look day by day, but it’s not impossible to have a good overall result.”
The race begins in Gotha on Friday night with a 67-kilometre road stage. Although the stage is short, it’s not without challenges. Undulating roads and a technical cobbled final will make for a hotly contested opener.
“The whole stage race is really hard,” said Kasper. “Every day is hilly. It feels like a roller coaster. It’s up and down the whole day without so many flat parts.”
Unlike the Giro Rosa, which Megan Guarnier won last weekend, the hills at Thüringen Rundfahrt are shorter. The race favours an all-arounder who can sprint, climb and time trial.
“The time trial will be hilly,” noted Kasper, in reference to the stage four race against the clock in Zeulenrodaer Meer. “I think it will be a good fit for Ellen, and it’s good preparation for Rio.”
Kasper, who is racing on home soil, hopes to sharpen her form before she heads to Brasil at the end of the month. She won a stage of Thüringen Rundfahrt in 2014 and would embrace any opportunity to repeat the feat.
“I’m looking to have a good week in preparation for the Olympics and if there’s the possibility to go for a stage, I will try to use it, but mostly I’m here to do a great race with the team,” said said. “Like always, it doesn’t matter who of us wins a stage or does something overall as long as it’s one of the team.”
Thüringen Rundfahrt is the only German race Boels-Dolmans lines up for this year.
“It’s always nice to race at home,” said Kasper. “My parents will be here for a few days to watch me.”
“I like the good organisation of the stage race,” she said. “It’s almost a home area for me. Some of the roads I know well. Something unique for this race is the ‘thüringer bratwurst’, which you will find – and smell! – in all the start/finishes for the next week.”
Boels-Dolmans Cycling Team for Thüringen Rundfahrt:
Demi de Jong
Ellen van Dijk