For four straight years Ellen van Dijk has won the EPZ Omloop van Borsele individual time trial. In the race’s fifth edition, the Dutchwoman was forced to settle for second place. Stopping the clock at 26:25 over the 19.9 kilometre course, Van Dijk missed out on the top step by three seconds to Lisa Brennauer (CANYON//SRAM). Chantal Blaak rounded out the podium at 26:40.
“I have to admit I’m not super happy,” said Van Dijk. “I wanted to win, and I became second. There wasn’t something specific that went wrong today. Lisa was better, faster.”
“I didn’t feel great, and I also didn’t feel bad,” Van Dijk added. “It was an average day, and all I can say is that I wasn’t good enough. It’s a bummer because I was hoping to do better.”
The course in ‘s Heerenhoek, Holland is flat and open with several corners to break up the straight stretches.
“The course was exactly the same as always,” Van Dijk said. “There was a lot of wind tonight. The wind might have made the difference with slower times, but everyone had wind. I just had a better ride last year than this year.”
Where Van Dijk contended with disappointment, Blaak expressed pride. In a field full of time trial specialists, Blaak surprised.
“I didn’t know where I was standing in the time trial at the moment because Energiewacht was not a good test for me,” said Blaak. “I crashed, and anyway, it’s always different in a stage race. Of course I wanted to do well here and do the best time trial I can do. I did, so I’m happy of course.”
The UCI ranking (or lack thereof) of the Borsele time trial belies its importance. The event is the only standalone time trial during the spring season.
“There are almost no opportunities to ride against each other, to test our form,” said Van Dijk. ‘This is one of the early tests to see how we compare. It’s a good reference point to see how it is right now. It’s not close the big event yet, so anything can happen but it’s always a good feeling when you have a good shape here.”
The ‘big event’ Van Dijk references is, of course, the 2016 Rio Olympics. The individual time trial course in Rio covers 29.8-kilometres including a gruelling 1.2-kilometre climb up Grumari Road.
“Today doesn’t say too much about Rio,” said Van Dijk. “Look at a rider like Kat Garfoot. Maybe nobody notices her here today, but she will be really good in Rio. It’s a very different course with different elements that favours different riders. Of course, any time trial provides an indication of time trial form, but no, you can’t look at today’s results and make any predictions for Rio.”
Racing in Zeeland continues on Saturday with the EPZ Omloop van Borsele road race. The 136.8-kilometre course includes four laps of a 24-kilometre circuit followed by four laps of a 9.9-kilometre local loop.
“I haven’t looked at the wind direction yet, but there’s always wind here in Zeeland,” said Van Dijk. “The course is very open, so there will be echelons. I hope we can have good numbers in the front when the echelons happen to set the team up for a good result.”