Jolien D’hoore sprinted to victory in stage 2 to move within one second of the race leader, Lisa Brennauer (Velocio-SRAM), as the general classification riders began to flex their muscles at the Aviva Women’s Tour Thursday.
With the peloton catching the break four kilometers from the finish in Clacton, England, the multi-talented D’hoore, a former world junior champion on the road, positioned herself perfectly coming up the long drag into the Essex seaside resort to win by a wheel, recording her fifth victory this season.
“It was pretty close in the end,” admitted Wiggle-Honda’s D’hoore.”I went from the last corner but it was uphill and into the wind so I didn’t know if I could make it. I was hoping Giorgia Bronzini was on my wheel. In fact, the original plan was for me to lead her out but she wasn’t there. She told me to go from the corner, and she would try and stay on the wheel so I just gave everything until the finish.
“I feel good. I’m getting stronger but I also have a good team around me and that makes a difference. You can never win a race alone. I don’t know about GC, but I did want to win a stage. I have that now, and I can stay relaxed. Let’s see how I go.”
But Rio 2016 is possibly an even bigger focus — in particular, the omnium on the track where she could yet prove the strongest rival to the triumvirate of Laura Trott, Annette Edmondson, and Sarah Hammer who have dominated the event in recent years. D’hoore finished fifth at London 2012 but won the World Cup at the Lee Valley Velodrome last year.
“For Rio I am going 100 percent for the track and my road season next year will be short to plan for that,” insists D’hoore. “My goal is the omnium for sure.”
Meanwhile Brennauer, the world time trial champion, is revealing an unexpected talent for sprint finishes with her second runner-up spot in two days, confirming the yellow jersey that she wore today in place of the absent Lizzie Armitstead (Boels Dolmans), who, as she had announced the previous night, decided not to continue following a nasty crash after her stage win in Aldeburgh.
“It was pretty hectic today with a lot of teams trying to set their sprinters up; my team did a really great job setting me up around the last left-hand corner when we hit the coast,” Brennauer said. “The sprint opened up and I just did my best. I want to fight for this yellow jersey but the GC is close, so much can happen.”
Stage 3 sees the race return to Oundle for a demanding, 139.2km run to Kettering through the Northamptonshire countryside. With the most demanding terrain so far and a stage length just 800m short of the maximum allowed by the UCI, this should be where the Aviva general classification race kicks off in earnest.