It was an all Dutch podium following the Elsy Jacobs Festival prologue on Friday night with Ellen van Dijk posting the best result for Boels-Dolmans Cycling Team in third place behind stage winner Annemiek van Vleuten (ORICA-AIS) and Marianne Vos (Rabo-Liv). The 2013 individual time trial world champion covered the 2.8-kilometre course in 4:00, five seconds slower than the winning time.
“I had no clue what to expect from myself,” admitted Van Dijk. “I came over the finish and I thought: ‘Well, that was for sure not good. I could have gone waaaaay faster through the corners.’ And then I saw I was third, so probably everybody has that thought after a prologue. I’m satisfied with the result.”
The Elsy Jacobs Festival opener was highly technical. It included a steep but short climb, two downhill sections and nine corners.
“It’s very different from a normal time trial for me,” said Van Dijk. “It was technical and, of course, really short. It’s only four minutes. You start and you finish and you think: ‘It’s over already?’ It’s full gas sprinting out of every corner.”
“The climbing is not my strongest part,” Van Dijk added. “And in all the corners, I didn’t take too many risks.”
Van Dijk’s Specialized Shiv was equipped with SRAM eTAP, and she insisted the new technology proved advantageous. With Blip shift buttons installed on the bull horn bars, Van Dijk was able to shift immediately, helping her power through corners and accelerate without hesitation.
“This was the first prologue I rode with SRAM eTAP, so I had electronic shifting,” said Van Dijk. “It made a big difference with so many corners and with the climbs. For sure I saved time there.”
A late call-up for Elsy Jacobs, Van Dijk replaced Romy Kasper, who is sidelined with injury. The three-day Luxembourgish tour replaced Van Dijk’s planned rest week ahead of an altitude camp next week.
“There was a place free without Romy,” Van Dijk explained. “I didn’t race so much before of my injury earlier in the spring. I thought I’d go and see what it brings. It’s not a bad start.”
“It would be nice to set Christine [Majerus] up for a good overall, but we have to see how the race is going for the next days,” said Van Dijk. “Apparently the stages are hard. The prologue doesn’t say a lot about the weekend. It’s a lot of climbing, and the differences already from the prologue are not that big. We’ll have to race day-by-day.”