There weren’t many big races that Anna van der Breggen hadn’t won yet, but Tour of Flanders was one of them. That is, until today. After a fantastic solo of about 25 kilometers, the Olympic champion had plenty of time to throw her hands up in the air when she was the first to arrive at the finish line in Oudenaarde.
"This is a very important win,” Van der Breggen said. "Beforehand, I couldn’t have imagined to win the Tour of Flanders the way I did. It’s very cool to win this great race in Belgium. The Tour of Flanders is a monument and I consider this victory a very big one. That we also got second place with Amy only adds to the party.”
Amy Pieters sprinted to second place in the chasing group, after showing great strength throughout the day.
"This was great," said Pieters. "As a team, we managed to keep the race under control the entire day. Of course I was already thrilled that Anna took the victory here, and that I can finish it off by taking second place makes me incredibly happy. "
And the success for Boels-Dolmans Cycling Team didn't stop there. World champion Chantal Blaak sprinted to fifth place and Megan Guarnier took tenth. Four riders in the top ten, including the winner and a podium place, is a great achievement in one of the most important spring classics on the calendar.
Van der Breggen’s decisive attack came already early in the race. "I had chosen this point in advance as a possible place to attack," she said. "It was still far from the finish line, but if you feel you’ve got the legs for it, it’s doable with the Oude Kwaremont and Paterberg shortly after. Also, I knew that I had strong teammates behind me. If I didn’t succeed, I knew they had been able to save themselves and have something left for the finish.”
Pieters confirmed that strong teamwork was a big plus in the superiority that Boels-Dolmans showed today and the reason the victory eventually went to someone from within the team. "We did extremely well as a team today," she said. "We took to the start with any option still open, which makes us very strong. We are all capable to finish it off and we all like to see each other win, which makes us strong.
Once Van der Breggen had opted for the attack, it soon became clear that she would not sit down. Competition soon realised that it would not be easy to reel Van der Breggen back in, partly because of the attentive riding of her teammates. But of course, it was the Olympic champ herself who finished it off with her incredibly strong ride.
"I just kept going as fast as possible," said Van der Breggen about the last kilometers to the finish line. "The last long stretch towards the finish was terrible, but I also knew that my lead was good enough. And we had crosswinds, which was an advantage for me. I really enjoy choosing a race to focus on. Races I like or haven’t won before. It’s even great when you’re able to succeed in winning them.”
After her podium finish, Pieters takes over the lead in the overall Women's WorldTour standings. The UCI Women’s WorldTour continues with the Amstel Gold Race on April 15.