HAMME-ZOGGE, Belgium (VN) – Sanne Van Paassen (Rabobank) got the better of an impressive match with Pavla Havlikova (Telenet-Fidea), slipping away from the diminutive Czech rider in the final laps of the blazing third round of the Hansgrohe Superprestige series.
The pair emerged from a quintet of riders who latched on to local favorite Sanne Cant (BKCP-Enertherm) as she made an early surge on a flat, fast, and tacky course along with Nikki Harris (Telenet-Fidea) and Sabrina Stultiens (Rabobank).
The five emerged from a larger group that also included Ellen Van Loy (Melbotech) and Joyce Vanderbeken (Decock-Sportive Moorsele), who simply couldn’t match the speed of the leaders during the first lap of the race.
Behind them, a botched start left American Amy Dombroski (Telenet-Fidea) scrambling to get into the race. Though Dombroski nearly managed to latch to Vanderbeken and Van Loy in the race for sixth, the race was one lap too short; she was would be forced to settle for eighth, the rapidly closing gap not closing quite fast enough to earn her a shot to bridge to the leaders.
“I had a bad start, I just kept getting caught up in traffic,” she told VeloNews.com after the race. “But after that I was able to ride a steady race, and I was pretty happy about that. I had a pretty heavy couple of weeks of training, so I came here without any real expectations. I think I’m on the up and up now.”
But while Dombroski was racing from behind, Cant and Van Paassen were springing ahead. The race figured to be a duel between the two before a misstep on the stairs sent the Belgian, and Harris, caught behind her, sprawling to the ground, much to the benefit of Havlikova, who latched on to Van Paassen’s wheel as the Dutchwoman powered away.
And though with two to go Havlikova appeared unable to match Van Paassen’s raw speed, Van Paassen’s pedal jammed on a technical section, allowing the Telenet-Fidea rider to link back up with her at the front.
“I was away, I had a gap, but after the stairs I couldn’t get back into my pedals,” said Van Paassen. “Just maybe 50 meters later there’s a very steep uphill and I couldn’t pedal, so I had to walk and Pavla could get back into the race.”
But again Havlikova couldn’t match Van Paassen’s power, and the Dutch rider powered again away to take a decisive win the next lap.
Van Paassen, who has raced only a few times so far this year, said she hoped this win would serve a springboard for success later this season.
“The last two seasons I was sick in January, and especially last year I was sick for almost two months,” she said, “so I decided to take the first two months a little easier. So I really hope now I won’t be ill later in the season and can go to the worlds and have a really good race.”