Karol-Ann Canuel took her first win in Boels-Dolmans colours at the Volta Limburg Classic on Saturday. The Canadian launched repeated attacks during the final hour of racing before soloing across the finish line.
“I saw this race as a good opportunity to get in some good intensity,” said Canuel. “I was pretty active in the race because of that.
Boels-Dolmans fielded a three-rider squad for the first edition of the women’s Volta Limburg Classic. Canuel lined up alongside Kasia Pawlowska and Jip van den Bos.
“Basically everyone that’s healthy and not doing Flanders did this race instead,” said Canuel. “It was a smaller field with some younger riders. Sunweb was there and so was the Marianne Vos team.”
The 130-strong peloton set off from Diepstraat for the 100-kilometre day.
“The women’s race borrowed from the men’s course,” explained Canuel. “We did three loops of 19 kilometres with two climbs and then four small loops around a six-kilometre circuit. That part was pretty flat. Then it was one more big lap, with the two climbs, and one last little lap.”
The race unfolded relatively sedately on the first three laps around the large circuit. An attack on the first lap of the small circuit inspired the first selection.
“We missed that at the beginning,” said Canuel. “I couldn’t quite catch it to cover, but I managed to bridge across. That was the break of the day. We all rolled.”
Lacking the raw speed needed to out-sprint the group of nine, Canuel knew she would want to make her move over the climbs in the larger loop.
“I attacked on the last climb,” Canuel said. “It was about 15 kilometres from the finish. We were five then. I attacked again on the small circuit because I didn’t want to sprint. It didn’t work, but at 1.2 kilometres, another girl attacked. We got away, and then I attacked her before the finish to come across the line solo…ish.”
Canuel had a three-second gap on Riejanne Markus (WM3 Energie) over the line in Eijsden. Liane Lippert (Team Sunweb) rounded out the podium.
“I’m really happy,” Canuel said. “It may not be the biggest race but a win is a win. I was feeling pretty good, and I’m confident for the next races.”