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Reigning world champion Elizabeth Armitstead (Boels – Dolmans) got her first win in the rainbow jersey out of the way early this season. The 27-year-old soloed to victory Saturday in the women’s Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, crossing the line 29 seconds ahead of the peloton after 123km in and around Ghent, Belgium.
Her teammate Chantal Blaak led the pack across the line to give Boels Dolmans the one-two result on the day. Tiffany Cromwell (Canyon – Sram) took third.
Armitstead went clear with Gracie Elvin of Orica – AIS around 20km from the finish, but the Brit attacked her fellow escapee and left the Australian behind, riding on solo. A half-hearted chase in the bunch never managed to put much of a dent into her advantage, and Armitstead reached the finish with plenty of time to celebrate.
“That wasn’t the plan at all. When I was away I was almost hoping they would catch me. I was out there way too long,” Armitstead said of her solo move.
“It wasn’t an attack. It was people messing around and watching each other and not watching me, which never happens, so that was really cool. I went to the front of the group and accelerated and somehow ended up on my own.”
Having won the first race of her season in the rainbow jersey, Armitstead can already dispense with any rainbow jersey curse talk for 2016.
“I was number 13 today as well,” Armitstead said. “That shows how much I believe in those things. Yeah. I think World Champions aren’t lucky. You work hard and you don’t suddenly stop working next winter because you’re world champion. It gives me extra motivation more than anything.”