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Omloop Het Nieuwsblad: ‘I would have loved to win for Amy’ says Demi Vollering

SD Worx rider talks about missing her injured teammate and why she didn't want to work with Annemiek van Vleuten.

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NINOVE, Belgium (VN) — The emotion was too much for Demi Vollering as she burst into tears at the finish of Omloop Het Nieuwsblad.

Vollering had just finished runner-up to Annemiek van Vleuten in a tense finale after the pair had broken away over the final climb. However, it wasn’t her disappointment in losing out in the two-up sprint to the line, it was the thought of her teammate Amy Pieters that had brought the emotion bubbling up to the surface.

Pieters, who finished third at the race in 2021, remains in a coma following a training accident in Spain last year and the team keenly feels her absence. Memories of her are everywhere and the team is riding as much for her as their own success.

“I would have loved to win for Amy,” Vollering said when interviewed by Belgian broadcaster Sporza after her second-place. “We just miss her, very much, in everything.”

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Vollering was the only rider that was able to go with van Vleuten as what was left of the group of favorites broke up over the final ascent of the Bosberg. It was clear from early on that Vollering was suffering behind the steam train that is van Vleuten as she puffed her cheeks and exhaled hard.

The final climbs had been taken on at a fast pace and the weather conditions were not allowing the SD Worx rider any respite.

“My legs were really painful, they were completely empty and it was a really hard final,” she said. “I was having a really hard time in the wheel of Annemiek after the last climb because the wind was really coming from the head side, so I couldn’t really stay out of it in her wheel so that made it really hard. I left everything out on the last climb. It was a really hard race but it is good to be back in racing.

“We know that van Vleuten is strong, and she showed it today again. But it’s still early in the season and I hope that we can keep growing in the team and that we can win next time.”

Vollering added later that even if she wasn’t too tired to make a pull, she would have still refused to do so for fear of van Vleuten dropping her as well as having a faster sprinter behind her in the chasing group.

“If I took over from her for sure she would attack me, and I had Lotte behind me to stay in the wheel,” Vollering said. “It’s super nice that you know that you have Lotte and Marlen behind you. That for me is perfect because then you know that if we come back then we have a second option that’s really good to know and have in your mind also.”

New signings Lotte Kopecky and Marlen Reusser were ever-present in the latter stages of the race, with the latter making it into a threatening breakaway of four riders ahead of the Muur van Geraardsbergen. Though Kopecky was distanced over the rough cobbled climb, she made it into the chase group behind Vollering to give SD Worx options should the lead group fail.

Though the result was not what Vollering or the team had hoped for, it was the first race of the season for the Dutch squad and there was plenty to be positive about.

“I think it can only go better and with today we already did a really good job,” Vollering said. We were a really good team together today, we were there in the moments that we needed to be. I think that was perfect and I think that we can only grow more and more and that’s really nice to think about.

“Marlen did a supper cool job to be in the front so long and Lotte also is a super strong rider and it’s nice to have those two in the team. Of course, Lonneke was really strong in the beginning, Elena and Chantal as well. Everybody in our team is super good so I’m really happy with all of them.”