Wiggle High5 Pro Cycling’s Jolien D’hoore finished the 2017 OVO Energy Women’s Tour in perfect style with a spectacular stage victory in the final, London stage. The former Belgian Champion outpaced the rest of the peloton in a bunch sprint, on Regent Street, St James’s, in the iconic West End of the British capital. British Champion Hannah Barnes (Canyon-SRAM) was second, with Luxembourg Champion Christine Majerus (Boels-Dolmans) in third at the end of the 62km criterium-like stage.
“That was really hard,” said D’hoore immediately after the stage. “I think it was one of the hardest crits I’ve done in my life. The hammer was going down from the start, and we missed it with the team. The girls had to chase the whole time; they got it back, and then it was just fast the whole time. It didn’t stop, it just kept going and going!
“We saved the best for last!”
With Wiggle High5 Pro Cycling’s aim for the race to win one of the five stages, D’hoore felt a little pressure coming into the stage. Only, however, the pressure that she puts on herself as one of the fastest riders in the World, as she performs on the biggest stage.
“When there’s a bunch sprint and you’re a sprinter then there's always some pressure, but you just have to deal with it, and just win the sprint!” she joked. “It was my job today to win the sprint, and that’s what I did.”
D’hoore began the stage in the red Sprints Jersey, which she had worn since Stage 3 but, as a break swallowed up the first intermediate sprint points, and with D’hoore unable to take any at the second sprint, she unfortunately lost her lead in the classification.
“I tried for an intermediate sprint but I was boxed in, in the corners here, so I knew I had to be in front from the third last corner,” she explained. “That made me a bit angry. I said to myself that my legs are there, but I couldn’t take any points in the intermediate sprint. So I said to myself that I have to win the stage, otherwise the team is not happy with me!
“Of course it’s disappointing to lose the jersey. I knew that I could do it, but I didn’t do it. But then I had no other option but to win the final.”
Although Wiggle High5 Pro Cycling’s Audrey Cordon-Ragot was already confirmed as the winner of the QOM Jersey - provided she finished the final stage - it was no easy time for the French rider as she performed her usual hard-working role for her teammates.
Chasing down a dangerous-looking breakaway in the first half of the stage fell to Cordon-Ragot and the rest of the black and orange team, so that their Belgian sprinter would be able to perform.
“It was super, super hard!” Cordon-Ragot exclaimed. “Probably the longest 60km of my life! It was super fast from the start. This was super, super hard, but I’m so glad that she won. It was really nice.
“I think for the team it’s amazing,” she added. “We came here first for a stage win, and we were a bit disappointed with the first stage, that we lost, and winning here is really showing a good picture of the team. And of course in the middle of London; there is nothing better than this, I’m so glad.”
Cordon-Ragot’s victory in the QOM Classification meant that there were two Wiggle High5 Pro Cycling riders on the final podium in London. The jersey is some reward for the commitment the French rider gives to her teammates, and caps arguably the best spring campaign of the 27-year-old’s career.
“I think the girls are happy for me, and they really enjoyed fighting for it because they know how much I am working. It’s always a good motivation to continue like this.”
1. Jolien D’hoore (Wiggle High5 Pro Cycling)
2. Hannah Barnes (Canyon-SRAM)
3. Christine Majerus (Boels-Dolmans)
Photo Credit: Anton Vos
– but the sailors praise the new boats