Wiggle High5 Pro Cycling’s Jolien D’hoore has won her second consecutive edition of the Madrid Challenge by la Vuelta, on the streets of the centre of the Spanish capital, as the 87km race finished in a bunch sprint. The Belgian Champion overtook American Coryn Rivera within sight of the line, to win the race by a wheel, after both riders caught up with an early jump by French rider Roxane Fournier (FDJ-Nouvelle-Aquitaine-Futuroscope).
“Sunweb and Cipollini had full lead out train, and I was sitting behind Sunweb, on Coryn’s wheel,” D’hoore said. “There was a gap just after the last corner, but I think it was still 350 or 400 to go, so it was too far to go. So I stayed in Coryn’s wheel, and then Roxane went on the left, and then I got a bit boxed in I guess.
“But then there was a gap with maybe 200 to go, I think, but still it was fine.”
As the event’s 2016 winner there was a lot of expectation on D’hoore’s shoulders to repeat that spectacular victory. Despite this, however, the Belgian Champion went into the race without putting too much pressure on herself.
“It’s fine, I think it was fine,” she said. “I just want to win every race, or I try to win every race. It doesn’t matter if I won last year or not, I just wanted to go for it again. I didn’t feel like there was too much pressure; it was okay.
“In the beginning of the race I had Julie [Leth], who stayed with me,” D’hoore explained. “We stayed at the back of the bunch, and we could save a lot of energy. Julie kept one pace, and didn’t brake or accelerate too much, so I could really save a lot of energy. Then towards the end of the race I tried to move up a bit.
“The other girls tried to go in breakaways, so I didn’t really have to do anything. Then on the last lap Emilia [Fahlin] stayed with me, and then she brought me into a perfect position. So yeah, a good day!”
The race, based on 15 laps of the 5.8km circuit to be used by the final stage of the men’s Vuelta a España later on, saw numerous attacks, but none that was able to establish what could have been a race-winning lead. The closest thing to the main break of the day happened when 15 riders got clear just before the halfway point, with former two-time road World Champion Giorgia Bronzini looking after the interests of Wiggle High5 Pro Cycling.
The group was only to stay ahead of the bunch for less than ten kilometres, however, before being closed down. There were several more attempts to get away, featuring Wiggle High5 Pro Cycling’s Italian Champion Elisa Longo Borghini and Emilia Fahlin, but the peloton refused to let anybody else get clear.
A four-rider group did escape in the penultimate lap, but was closed down again well before the finish.
Fahlin brought D’hoore to the front of the peloton inside the final lap, and the Belgian Champion was able to finish off a perfect race for the black and orange team and her twelfth victory of 2017.
“It’s been a great season for me,” D’hoore smiled. “My form has been really good from the beginning of the season, and I’m happy with it, but I think the World Championships are going to be a bit hard for me. I’m not going as one of the favourites, I’ll just try to hang on and then I will see.”
1. Jolien D’hoore (Wiggle High5 Pro Cycling)
2. Coryn Rivera (Team Sunweb)
3. Roxane Fournier (FDJ-Nouvelle-Aquitaine-Futuroscope)
6. Giorgia Bronzini (Wiggle High5 Pro Cycling)
Photo Credit: Velofocus