Pavla Havlikova (MRM-Avalon) won the kickoff to the Bpost Bank Trofee series on Sunday in Ronse.
Havlikova rode alone to the victory in the GP Mario De Clercq ahead of Telenet-Fidea teammates Jolien Verschueren and Nikki Harris.
“It was a good race. I didn’t know what is my condition before the race, but in the first lap I felt I was strong, maybe a bit stronger than the others,” said Havlikova.
“Everybody around the course pushed me in every corner. It was a surprising performance for me, but the biggest surprise for the others around.”
With Havlikova alone off the front Verschueren and Harris found themselves together with two to go, while behind, Belgian champion Sanne Cant (BKCP-Enertherm) and Ellen Van Loy (Telenet-Fidea) had their own duel going on.
Going into the final lap Havlikova had a 13-second cushion over the pursuit, and she would pad that advantage slightly by the line.
Verschueren escaped Harris to finish second at 15 seconds down. Harris held on for third, at 34 seconds.
Likewise Cant gave Van Loy the slip, but fell short of the podium, crossing in fourth, more than a minute down on the winner.
“It was nothing special, when I go to race I am racing for full gas until I stop. When I am on the podium it is super for me,” said Havlikova.
She agreed that her form seemed to have improved since leaving Telenet-Fidea, but added “I am doing everything the same.”
“Things did change a lot, you know, because I have a different team. Maybe it is a little more for me because I have a clear head now and I am racing only for fun,” she said.
Harris, meanwhile, said she was happy to make the podium, and added that Havlikova was clearly a cut above the others.
“I’m happy with third today, it was the best I could have gotten today,” she said. “I tried everything, but I was just completely dead at the end. It’s such a hard course.
“Pavla was in another league today, and she was just off on her own so it was just a fight for second. I was hanging on a little bit, but every time on the climbs I could see Jolien coming and coming. And I was trying my hardest, but I’m happy with third.”
Editor’s note: Dan Seaton contributed to this report.