Loes Gunnewijk wins Women’s Omloop Het Nieuwsblad in two-rider sprint
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Saturday, February 25, 2012

Loes Gunnewijk wins Women’s Omloop Het Nieuwsblad in two-rider sprint

by Ben Atkins at 9:44 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Spring Classics, Race Reports and Results, Omloop Het Nieuwsblad
 
Former Dutch champion outsprints compatriot Ellen van Dijk in women’s European season opener

loes gunnewijkLoes Gunnewijk (GreenEDGE-AIS) got the new Australian pro team’s first ever European season off to a perfect start with victory in the elite women’s Omloop Het Nieuwsblad. The former Dutch champion outsprinted her compatriot Ellen van Dijk (Specialized-lululemon) at the end of the 119.4km race, after the two of them had escaped an eleven-rider group with 20km to go.

Van Dijk’s Specialized-lululemon teammate won the sprint for third place, ahead of Martine Bras (Dolmans-Boels), 1’10” behind.

"It's really special for me to take my first win and for us to win the first European race of the season to continue our winning streak," said Gunnewijk. "We have a really good spirit and work ethic in the team. Everyone wants to work for the leader in any given race. We're happy to race as a team, and this is obvious in our results."

"We decided that I should be kept safe in the final," explained Gunnewijk. "The ideal situation would give me one or two teammates in a front group so that we could play with several options. We succeeded pretty well in following this plan."

The peloton stayed together for the first 50km of the race, until the break of eleven riders got clear on the Côte de Trieu (Knokteberg).

"We wanted to ride easy and stay safe in the first half of the race," Gunnewijk explained. "Other teams seemed to have this idea, too."

In the group were Gunnewijk, van Dijk, Worrack and Bras, along with Elisa Longo Borghini and Lise Nøstvold (both Hitec Products-Mistral Home, Gunnewijk’s GreenEDGE-AIS teammates Tiffany Cromwell and Amanda Spratt, Italian champion Noemi Cantele (Be Pink), British champion Lizzie Armitstead (AA Drink-Leontien.nl) and French cyclocross star Pauline Ferrand Prevot (Stichting Rabo).

The group quickly built a lead of over a minute, ahead of a group of twenty riders, with the rest of the peloton drifting back.

Cantele tried to escape on the Molenberg, the final climb with 35km to go, but the Italian champion was pulled back before she could get very far, and the group was together again as it took on the cobbles of the Paddestraat and Lippenhovestraat.

On the cobbles of Lange Munte though, with 20km to go, Gunnewijk attacked and managed to break free. The former Dutch road and time trial champion managed to get free for a few kilometres, until van Dijk managed to fight her way across, and the two Dutchwomen worked together to keep the others at bay.

The time trialling power of both riders, along with the presence of two of Gunnewijk’s teammates and one of van Dijk’s in the chasing group, saw them increase their lead all the way to the finish in Gent. With both riders better known for their time trialling than their sprinting it was tough to predict which one would come out on top, but Gunnewijk took the victory by more than two lengths.

Result Omloop Het Nieuwsblad Elite Women
1. Loes Gunnewijk (Ned) GreenEDGE-AIS
2. Ellen van Dijk (Ned) Specialized-lululemon
3. Trixi Worrack (Ger) Specialized-lululemon @ 1’10”
4. Martine Bras (Ned) Dolmans-Boels
5. Pauline Ferrand Prevot (Fra) Stichting Rabo Women
6. Noemi Cantele (Ita) Be Pink
7. Elisa Longo Borghini (Ita) Hitec Products-Mistral Home
8. Tiffany Cromwell (Aus) GreenEDGE-AIS
9. Amanda Spratt (Aus) GreenEDGE-AIS
10. Elizabeth Armitstead (GBr) AA Drink-Leontien.nl

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