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Jolien D’hoore celebrated her 25th birthday by...

Jolien D’hoore claims 2015 women’s World Cup kickoff

Belgian road champion Jolien D’hoore celebrates her 25th birthday by winning the Ronde van Drenthe in a bunch sprint

Jolien D’hoore (Wiggle-Honda) picked up a fine birthday present on Saturday, winning the opening round of the women’s World Cup.

The 25-year-old Belgian road champion took the 138km Ronde van Drenthe in a bunch sprint ahead of Amy Pieters (Liv-Plantur) and Ellen van Dijk (Boels Dolmans) in Hoogeveen, the Netherlands.

“Today was pretty good so far, I had an amazing birthday,” D’hoore said. “We haven’t rehearsed the lead out or anything, it just came naturally. Audrey [Cordon-Ragot] did the first part, then Elisa [Longo Borghini] took over, and Chloe [Hosking] did the lead-out. It was great!”

On the flat approach to the race’s 7.9km finishing circuit Longo Borghini made it into a break with Chantal Blaak (Boels-Dolmans), Roxane Knetemann (Rabo-Liv) and Tiffany Cromwell (Velocio-SRAM). The quartet gained almost 30 seconds, but Longo Borghini was in the break to protect D’hoore while Cromwell was riding for teammate Barbara Guarischi, so only the two Dutch riders were working.

“Elisa got away in a group of four, and she didn’t have to do anything, and we could stay in the back and say ‘we have Elisa in front,’” D’hoore said. “Then the group behind came back to us, and so it was a bunch sprint, and the team did an amazing lead-out. The last 2K was amazing.

“I couldn’t believe it. I have the leader’s jersey, I just won a World Cup, on my birthday! What else is there?”

Last Sunday, D’hoore recorded her first victory of the season at the Omloop van het Hageland.

The next round of the World Cup is the March 29 Trofeo Alfredo Binda in Italy.