Wiggle Honda Pro Cycling’s Jolien D’hoore showed once again that she is one of the fastest sprinters in the World as she won the bunch sprint for second place in the 2015 edition of La Course by Le Tour de France. The Belgian Champion crossed the line comfortably clear of Liv-Plantur’s Amy Pieters, on the prestigious Avenue des Champs-Elysées, just one second behind breakaway winner Anna van der Breggen (Rabo-Liv).
“Today was a bit hectic, and nervous racing, also because of the weather,” D’hoore explained. “It rained from the start, and also in the last lap it was hard to control the race and to get organised for the sprint, because of the weather.
“So that’s why Anna took her chance, and it was perfect for her. Everybody was looking at each other, and nobody really took on the responsibility. We, in the team, had difficulty finding each other in the final, and that’s why she could hold the gap. It was a good job of Anna van der Breggen, she was strong.”
Heavy rain in central Paris meant that the 89km course, run over 13 laps of the finishing circuit used by the men’s Tour de France, was extremely slippery. The race was punctuated by several crashes, with Wiggle Honda Pro Cycling’s Amy Roberts, Emilia Fahlin, and even D’hoore herself brought down.
“It was just so slippery, and you couldn’t get full power on the pedals because you slipped away and you crashed,” D’hoore said. “It was difficult to race like that, and everybody was a bit scared on the bike; you could see it in the race.
“I came down in the fourth lap, or something, it was a really big crash. I’m okay, but I had to change bikes, because my bike was broken. It took a while, but luckily I could get back, because girls like [Wiggle Honda Pro Cycling teammates] Amy [Roberts] andEmilia [Fahlin] also crashed and they couldn’t get back.”
Despite several riders trying to escape the peloton on the glacial cobblestones, the sprinters’ teams managed to prevent anybody from opening up a meaningful gap. Wiggle Honda Pro Cycling’s Nettie Edmondson and Giorgia Bronzini were an almost constant presence at the front of the peloton, as the double Track World Champion, and former two-time Road World Champion policed the race on behalf of teammate D’hoore.
When van der Breggen attacked on the final lap, however, the Giro Rosa winner was able to open a small, but decisive lead on the cobbled drag up to the Arc de Triomphe. With the roads too slippery to organise a strong enough chase, van der Breggen was just able to hold off the sprinters all the way to the line.
“I was feeling really good, and I’m really fast in the sprint right now, but I was standing upright on the pedals and I could feel my back wheel slipping away,” D’hoore added. “It wasn’t the perfect sprint for me because it was wet, but I think that’s the same for everybody.
“I think that if it was dry then I could have done a more powerful sprint, but that’s bike racing.”
1. Anna van der Breggen (Rabo-Liv)
2. Jolien D’hoore (Wiggle Honda Pro Cycling)
3. Amy Pieters (Liv-Plantur)