Amy Pieters delivered her first podium for Boels-Dolmans Cycling Team in Dour on Wednesday. The Dutchwoman rode herself into the winning breakaway at the mid-point of the 100-kilometre race. Perfectly positioned for the run-in to the line, Pieters was outsprinted by Sheyla Gutierrez (Cylance Cycling) for the top step of podium.
“I don’t think I did anything wrong,” said Pieters. “It was only the one other that was faster. I couldn’t have done anymore. Sheyla was really fast today, and now we know for next time.”
Race organisers announced a course change for the mid-week Classics in the hours before the race began in Quaregnon. The opening lap was shortened and an additional local lap – for three in total – was added into the mix.
“The course change didn’t impact us at all,” said Pieters. “We all knew the local lap, and that was most important. We’re strong enough that we can do something no matter the course.”
The women’s peloton lined up on wet roads, anticipating further rainfall.
“The weather wasn’t really good but we expected much worse,” noted Pieters. “We had some rain, but we thought it was rain the whole race. At the end, it wasn’t that much.”
The majority of the opening 24-kilometre lap was subdued. As the first passage of the finish line loomed, a group of nine escaped. Pieters and Christine Majerus were amongst the frontrunners.
“We had a bit of side-wind and it split up,” said Pieters. “Chrisine and I were there on the front. It was only for a short time, and then we were already on the local lap.”
A cobble section on the opening lap provided the launching point for the race-winning move. With three riders already away, Pieters bridged across with another rider in tow. Pieters, Gutierrez, Tiffany Cromwell (CANYON//SRAM), Romy Kasper (Alé Cipollini) and Jessie Druyts (Sport Vlaanderen – Etixx) had made the selection and opened up a gap beyond the minute mark by the start of lap two.
“It was a good group with almost all the big teams there,” said Pieters. “Everybody was working.”
By lap three, the peloton had relinquished hope of catching the breakaway, and the advantage stretched out to three minutes. The leaders attacked each other into the final kilometre, with Pieters and Gutierrez going head-to-head in the sprint.
“We were just beaten in the sprint,” said DS Danny Stam. “We underestimated Gutierrez.”
Following the race, Pieters praised the team that supported her podium ambitions.
“I’m really thankful the team gave me a chance today,” said Pieters. “We all rode well as a unit today. We’re already on a high level, and we’re getting better every race. I’m thankful to be a part of it.”