Boels-Dolmans Cycling Team took a historic victory in Groningen on Wednesday night with a win in the opening stage team time trial. The six-strong squad covered the 11.3 kilometre course in a time of 14:09, 20-seconds quicker than team time trial world champions CANYON//SRAM Racing. Ellen van Dijk led her teammates across the line and will start stage two as race leader.
"It was great to get the first win in the TTT – first time ever! It’s awesome,” said Van Dijk. “We put a lot of time and effort specifically into the discipline. It’s the whole team, all the girls, all the staff and also Specialized who came here with us.”
“We've done testing on the track. We've done so much training. The sponsors have all gotten involved. It’s the third year that I’m in the team and our first TTT win. It’s been a long process, and now it’s paid off. Last year we lost the World Championships by only six seconds. It's still kind of fresh in our minds, so this is a special victory."
Rain earlier in the day made for wet roads, and the slick course was slightly dangerous. The team time trial began in the city centre of Groningen. Teams raced through the shopping streets before making their way out to exposed roads out of town.
“The course was a little bit dangerous because it was wet,” noted Van Dijk. “We had to be careful out there. We took a good look beforehand, so we knew where we could push hard and where we had to back off a little bit.”
The team finished with four riders on the same time – Van Dijk, Christine Majerus, Chantal Blaak and Amalie Diderisken.
“It’s nice to keep the team together, but it’s never the most efficient way, and we spoke about it before,” noted Van Dijk. “We wanted to finish with four. We used everyone in a very efficient way. Some girls had to sacrifice themselves early on, but that’s how the team can win.”
Van Dijk was never pegged as the potential jersey leader. She led the team through the final corner and was quickest in the push for the line.
“It just happened that I was the first one to cross the finish line,” she explained. “I get a lot of attention now because I have the leader’s jersey, but everybody deserves it just as much as I do. It’s a little unfair to the rest that I’m the only one that can wear it.”
Energiewacht Tour continues tomorrow with a 117-kilometre road stage that starts and finishes in Winsum. Boels-Dolmans Cycling Team starts the road stages with a healthy advantage due to their winning margin, the race leader and the youth classification leader in Amalie Dideriksen.
“I hope to do really well in the individual time trial on the weekend,” said Van Dijk. “We’ll see about the rest. We have to take it day by day. The races here are really hard. They are flat, but there’s a lot of wind. You have to stay focused. You lose attention for a second, and it’s easy to miss the echelon. In a race like this, anything can happen.”