The first reigning world champion to start the Spar Omloop van het Hageland in Tielt-Winge, Amalie Dideriksen was the top finisher for Boels-Dolmans in Sunday evening’s bunch sprint. The Dane sprinted to ninth place as Jolien d’Hoore (Wiggle High5) outsprinted her former teammate Chloe Hosking (Alé Cipollini) for the top spot on the podium.
“Today was nice for me. I felt good and I got better during the race,” said Dideriksen. “The girls said with a bit more than one lap to go that they’d ride for me in the sprint, if it was a sprint. Of course it makes me happy that they want to go for me.
“I’m a bit disappointed that I couldn’t do a result,” Dideriksen added. “I got blocked a bit in the sprint, and I couldn’t get out and really go for it. I hope they’ll trust me in the future, too, and I hope I can do better.”
The result belies the effort made by Boels-Dolmans. Amy Pieters bounced back from her crash at Omloop het Nieuwsblad to feature in two key breakaways while Chantal Blaak made a last lap move that was caught in the final 10 kilometres.
“We don’t have a real bunch sprinter here, so we we wanted to make the race hard whenever it was possible,” said Majerus. “That’s what we did. Chantal and Amy were a lot in the breaks and Karo [Canuel] and I were covering things. We saved Amalie for the sprint, knowing that it’s also not a sprint for her, but it’s good for her to try. It’s how we and she can improve.
“The main concern today was that we’d always have one in front,” added Majerus. “We did a pretty hard lead-out into the first cobbled climb and then we had Amy in the first main break. She was in the second big break, too, and then Chantal after. Unfortunately some sprint teams always missed it and brought it back. Tactically it was all we could do. I was hoping one of the breaks would stay away because both Amy and Chantal had a chance to win the small group sprint.”
The American champion’s stars and stripes were missing from the second half of the live race stream. Megan Guarnier crashed out in the first of four 17-kilometre circuit laps after tangling with another rider just before the first passage of the feed zone. The 2016 UCI Women’s WorldTour winner sustained a blow to the head and several contusions on her legs and hips.
“You always hurt all over with a crash like this,” said Guarnier. “It doesn’t feel good, but I’m ok.”
While Boels-Dolmans fell short of an opening weekend win, the Dutch-registered squad leaves Belgium satisfied and optimistic about the races to come: Le Samyn on Wednesday and the 2017 Women’s World Tour opener, Strade Bianche, on Saturday.
“From point of fitness, we are good, especially as we’re still missing Lizzie [Deignan] and Anna [van der Breggen],” said Majerus. “With those two added to the group, that makes us even stronger. Chantal and Amy showed that they were really good in shape. They gave us confidence that if we ride for them, they can make the finish.”