Wiggle Honda Pro Cycling’s Giorgia Bronzini is optimistic ahead of Saturday’s opening round of the World Cup, the Ronde van Drenthe, despite technical problems denying the two-time road World champion a chance to take a result in today’s Molecaten Drentse 8.
The Italian was riding her first European race of the season, having recently returned from the UCI Track World Championships in Cali, Colombia, but was one of the many victims of the notorious Drenthe cobblestones peculiar to the north eastern Netherlands region.
Wiggle Honda Pro Cycling’s Swedish champion Emilia Fahlin finished in eighth place as the depleted peloton sprinted for second behind late breakaway Chantal Blaak (Specialized-lululemon). Anna-Bianca Schnitzmeier and Peta Mullens - making her European debut for the team - also finished in the main front group, having worked hard for Fahlin, as only 48 riders finished the race.
“These cobblestones are really rough,” explained Wiggle Honda Pro Cycling directeur sportif Franky Van Haesebroucke. “Like some stones you find on a beach, throw into some mud, and then you ride over them! We had some technical problems with Giorgia and Beatrice [Bartelloni] and, of course, once they know at the front that Bronzini is not there any more they went super fast.”
The 136km race saw a break of six escape just after halfway and, despite being made up of strong riders, the chasing peloton - with Wiggle Honda Pro Cycling riders to the fore - was able to chase the group down before the finish.
“We gave the Tibco and Cipollini teams a hand to bring the six riders back, and it was all back together with six or seven kilometres to go,” Van Haesebroucke said. “But then Chantal Blaak went with about three to go; it was a sneaky move, and she got away.
“The team was riding really strong,” he added. “We had three in that front group at the finish, but we need to get over our bad luck! Everybody’s positive that we can do it.”
After concentrating on the track, Bronzini is confident that her “road legs” have returned in time for the first major European race of the season.
“I was feeling really good until my little technical problem,” said the Italian. “I was in the front on the cobblestones. Today was a good day with the weather, because I love to ride in the sun! I had some really good feelings.
“I was sorry for the girls because they worked hard to get me into position for the cobblestones, but in the end we could do nothing. In the end they worked for Emilia, to bring her into the best position for the sprint; she is in good form.”
Saturday’s Ronde van Drenthe will be run over a similar course, save for three ascents of the VAM-berg climb, and Bronzini is confident that the team will be strong enough to fight for the results.
“On Saturday I think we can do something with Emilia,” said Bronzini. “Her and Lotte Becker are really strong and they will be next to me.
“If I can have a good day, and eat and drink properly, I think I will be able to finish well. I hope so.”
Result Molecaten Drentse 8
1. Chantal Blaak (Specialized-lululemon)
2. Lucy Garner (Giant-Shimano)
3. Lizzie Armitstead (Boels-Dolmans)
8. Emilia Fahlin (Wiggle Honda Pro Cycling)
photos Janos Schmidt