Christine Majerus sprinted onto the podium of the inaugural Lotto Women Cup Brugge-De Panne on Thursday, the women’s race that is linked to the men’s race De Panne-Koksijde. The Luxembourg champion crossed the line behind winner Jolien D’Hoore (Mitchelton-Scott) and Chloe Hosking (Alé Cipollini). It means Boels-Dolmans Cycling Team continues its streak of podium finishes in the Women’s WorldTour, after Anna van der Breggen’s win in Strade Bianche, Amy Pieters’ victory in the Ronde van Drenthe and world champion Chantal Blaak finishing second in Trofeo Alfredo Binda.
“I’m really happy with the result for me personally and for the team,” said Majerus. “D’Hoore and Hosking are two really strong sprinters, so I’m happy that I could join them on the podium.”
Round four in the Women’s WorldTour was another wet day in the saddle, with rain and wind creating havoc in the peloton. Right from the start, the peloton split in the crosswinds. But it wasn’t as hectic as the start in Bruges might have suggested. “There was a lot of rain at the start,” Majerus said. “But the forecasts predicted that it would dry down a bit later on the day, which it did. So fortunately, it wasn’t as epic as it could have been. It was actually pretty okay for me, because I was in the break. We gave each other enough space, so I had a smooth ride.”
Before sprinting to third place in the reduced bunch sprint, Majerus had spent the majority of the day in a 15-rider lead group, which got formed after only 18 kilometres. “I wasn’t really happy with the breakaway and how it came about,” Majerus admitted. “There was a cobble section and I was the first one to enter the cobbles. I noticed a small 20-centimetre bike path on the side. I went on it in a reflex, but realised that you can get disqualified for doing that, so I went back onto the cobbles.”
“A group of five, six riders passed me on the bike path though and rode away,” Majerus continued. “I stayed on the cobbles at first, but as I saw the group really ride away from us, I jumped onto their wheels. A little further behind me, the peloton broke. After a corner, the group started riding straightaway and the break was formed.”
“I didn’t take my turns at first, because I was the only Boels-Dolmans rider in there and there were three riders of Team Virtu,” said Majerus. “I wasn’t happy about that. But we then decided that I should start cooperating, since the group did have potential to stay away.”
A flat meant Majerus had to let the front group go at 56 kilometres from the finish line. “Once I fell back in the peloton, we actually didn’t really do anything,” said Majerus. “It was up to the sprinter teams, Canyon-SRAM, Team Sunweb and Alé Cipollini, to close the gap. Jip, Amy and I just made sure we stayed at the front in case the peloton split. In the final lap, Amy told me I was the one going to sprint, since she had crashed and wasn’t feeling too well. She was great in keeping me out of the wind to prepare for my sprint.”
And that’s how Majerus managed to get herself onto the podium after a crash-filled race. Crashes also occurred in the traim rails, a thing the men’s race has been infamous for for years. For Majerus, there are two sides to this story.
“I do think tram rails have no place in a WorldTour race,” she said. “Because you know that if you are going into one of them, that’s a definitive crash. You’ll never get out again.”
“However, since we know they are there, it’s something we have to deal with,” Majerus continued. “I cannot understand why we don’t all take some extra precaution when we come across them. You’re not going to win the race by taking risks at the point where the rails were. And if we all take it a little easy in that section, there’s no real trouble. Then you don’t have to crash, which not only affects yourself, but other riders as well.”
All in all, Majerus is happy with her performance and the team work with her teammates. “Skylar [Schneider] rode really well today and then we had Jip [van den Bos], Amy and me in the final, so I think we can be really satisfied. It’s the fourth podium in four Women’s WorldTour races, including two wins, so that’s not bad at all.”
Round five in the Women’s WorldTour is formed by Gent-Wevelgem on Sunday.