Wiggle Honda Pro Cycling’s Jolien D’hoore made a triumphant return to racing, after her well-deserved mid-season break, with an emphatic sprint victory at the Antwerp Diamond Tour, outside the Kempen Diamond Museum in Nijlen, Belgium. The 25-year-old Belgian Champion beat compatriot Kelly Druyts (Topsport Vlaanderen Pro-Duo) to the line, at the end of the 124km race, with German Champion Lisa Brennauer (Velocio-SRAM) in third place.
“Today was a good day,” D’hoore laughed. “I didn’t expect to go so well already. I felt so good in the race; maybe I did a bit too much, but I just wanted to have a good day as a preparation for the Women’s Tour. That’s why I raced so much.
“In the end I still had some power left to win the sprint, so I’m happy!”
The race, which is the fifth in the Belgian Lotto Cycling Cup series, consisted of a 41.9km loop out from the start in central Antwerp, followed by six laps of a 13.7km circuit in Nijlen. Despite the largely flat parcours the peloton was subject to several attempted breakaways although, since most came from solo riders, they were relatively easy for the sprinters’ teams to control.
“The course was pretty flat, so it was a bit of a quiet race,” D’hoore explained. “But the speed was quite high, so that was good. There were a lot of crashes though, so it was quite dangerous.”
A strong looking six-rider break escaped, with just over two laps to go, with many of the big teams represented. Wiggle Honda Pro Cycling’s Audrey Cordon-Ragot was present in the group, however, and ensured that it was only able to gain a few seconds before being pulled back in.
There was a late move from Judith Bloem (Jan van Arckel), who managed to get half a minute clear, but the lone Dutchwoman was reeled back in on the final circuit. The sprinters’ teams then maintained control of the from of the peloton from that point on, and D’hoore was able to dominate the sprint finish.
“Anna [Christian] rode really strongly today,” said D’hoore in praise of her teammates. “Then we had Audrey, who did an amazing job; she went a few times in the breakaway, and then she did a great job in the final for the sprint. Then Nettie [Edmondson] did a really good job leading me out at the finish, so it was quite good for a small team!
“I was a bit worried, because I didn’t know how fast I would be after my break,” D’hoore continued. “I didn’t really train on my sprint, I just did long training rides, with not really any big efforts, or sprint training or anything.
“I didn't expect it, and I’m really happy that my shape is really good, and I can build on this.”
1. Jolien D’hoore (Wiggle Honda Pro Cycling)
2. Kelly Druyts (Topsport Vlaanderen Pro-Duo)
3. Lisa Brennauer (Velocio-SRAM)