Tiffany Cromwell opens European season with Omloop Het Nieuwsblad victory
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Saturday, February 23, 2013

Tiffany Cromwell opens European season with Omloop Het Nieuwsblad victory

by Ben Atkins at 11:21 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Omloop Het Nieuwsblad
Australian outsprints US champion Megan Guarnier after two-rider break

Tiffany CromwellTiffany Cromwell (Orica-AIS) won the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, the opening race of the European season, in Gent, Belgium, in a two-up sprint from US champion Megan Guarnier (Rabobank-Liv/Giant). The two riders escaped from a group of fourteen in the final fifteen kilometres of the 125 kilometre race, and were able to build a decisive lead; they were then able to hold their advantage to the finish, where Cromwell was able to retain the title taken by Orica-AIS teammate Loes Gunnewijk the year before.

To cap a near-perfect day for Orica-AIS, two time race winner, Swedish champion Emma Johansson led the chase group in to take third place.

“It’s a fantastic team effort,” said a delighted Cromwell afterwards. “Any one of us could take the win today. As always, we supported each other, and I was happy to finish off the job.

“The race unfolded as we had expected,” she continued. “Usually not much happens until around the 50 kilometre mark. Until then, we are just meant to keep out of trouble and ensure we had numbers when the sectors start. “

Setting out in near-freezing conditions outside the Vlaams Wielercentrum Eddy Merckx on the outskirts of Gent, the peloton stayed together until it hit the fourth climb, the Côte de Trieu, after 61km, where it split into several pieces. The fearsome Paterberg followed just a few kilometres later, with its 20% cobbled slopes, which saw a group of 25 riders get clear of the rest, but it was soon absorbed by the group behind it to form a new peloton of around 50 riders.

Rossella Ratto (Hitec Products) attacked on the Edelareberg with just over 50km to go; the Italian was closed down on the cobbled Kattenberg that followed seven kilometres later but, when she was less than 20 seconds ahead at the top, Cromwell bridged across the gap on the cobbles of the Holloweg.

The duo was soon caught, however, which led to the next attack from Claudia Häusler (Tibco-To The Top), but the German too was soon back in the pack. On the approach to the Molenberg, with 40km to go, 2007 World champion Marta Bastianelli (Faren-Let’s Go Finland) became the next to jump clear. The Italian was just a few metres clear as she hit the steep, cobbled climb and as soon caught; the tough gradients split the bunch in two again, however, as the race began the journey back the the finish in Gent.

What emerged was a group of 18 riders, containing a number of the race favourites.

On the Paddestraat cobbles, with 30km to go, Chantal Blaak (Tibco-To The Top) attacked and the Dutchwoman, who finished third in the 2011 edition, was joined by a 13 riders at the head of the race.

Entering the closing stages of the race the lead group consisted of: Loes Gunnewijk, Emma Johansson, Cromwell and Gracie Elvin (all Orica-AIS), Megan Guarnier, Roxane Knetemann and Annmiek Van Vlueten (all Rabobank-Liv/Giant), Ellen Van Dijk (Specialized-lululemon), Elisa Longo Borghini (Hitec Products), Anna Van Der Breggen (Sengers), Blaak, Häusler and Shelley Olds (all Tibco-To The Top), and Bastianelli.

As the group arrived on the outskirts of Gent, inside the final five km, Cromwell and Guarnier attacked and, with several teammates each in the group, were allowed to get away. “We had representation each time the race split, but nothing was really happening despite all the action,” Cromwell said. “There was a strong headwind, and most teams weren’t willing to help force the split.”

With five kilometres to go they were 30 seconds clear, and seemingly heading for a two-up sprint on the Sint-Pietersplein finishing straight.

“We had been using our numbers to our advantage and launching attacks that were going nowhere,” Cromwell continued. “Finally, I went and Megan came with me. We got a gap immediately but she wasn’t working with me. I still considered it a good opportunity, so I worked – maybe a bit too much. Eventually Megan started rolling through. It was enough to hold off the chasing bunch.”

Across the final section of cobbles, the Steenakker with 2.6km to go, the two leaders were still together, and had increased their lead to 45 seconds. They entered the finishing straight together, and Cromwell won the sprint to take her second victory of the season.

“I started sprinting with 300 metres,” Cromwell explained. “Megan didn’t contest the sprint. I don’t think she had anything left.”

Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, Ghent, Belgium:

Elite Women:

1, Tiffany Cromwell (Orica - AIS) 125 km in 3 hours 34 mins
2, Megan Guarnier (Rabobank-Liv/Giant) at 3 secs
3, Emma Johansson (Orica - AIS) at 12 secs
4, Annemiek Van Vleuten (Rabobank-Liv/Giant)
5, Shelley Olds (Team Tibco - To The Top)
6, Ellen Van Dijk (Specialized - Lululemon)
7, Chantal Blaak (Team Tibco - To The Top)
8, Anna Van Der Breggen (Sengers Ladies Cycling Team)
9, Roxane Knetemann (Rabobank-Liv/Giant)
10, Loes Gunnewijk (Orica - AIS)
11, Marta Bastianelli (Faren - Let's Go Finland Team)
12, Elisa Longo Borghini (Hitec Products UCK) at 16 secs
13, Gracie Elvin (Orica - AIS) at 22 secs
14, Christine Majerus (Sengers Ladies Cycling Team) at 4 mins 39 secs
15, Annelies Van Doorslaer (Cyclelive Plus - Zannata)
16, Monique Van De Ree (Cyclelive Plus - Zannata)
17, Jade Wilcoxson (USA)
18, Mascha Pijnenborg (Team
19, Maaike Polspoel (Sengers Ladies Cycling Team)
20, Latoya Brulee (Cyclelive Plus - Zannata)
21, Marijn De Vries (Lotto Belisol Ladies)
22, Audrey Cordon (Vienne Futuroscope)
23, Isabelle Saderberg (Cramo Go:Green)
24, Alexandra Burchenkova (Rusvelo)
25, Ana Bianca Schnitzmeier (Wiggle Honda)
26, Ann-Sophie Duyck (Lotto Belisol Ladies)
27, Sofie De Vuyst (Sengers Ladies Cycling Team)
28, Chloe Hosking (Hitec Products UCK)
29, Iris Slappendel (Rabobank-Liv/Giant)
30, Kristin Mc Grath (USA)
31, Trixi Worrack (Specialized - Lululemon)
32, Claudia Häusler (Team Tibco - To The Top)
33, Adrie Visser (Boels Dolmans Cycling Team)
34, Amanda Spratt (Orica - AIS)
35, Thalita De Jong (Rabobank-Liv/Giant)
36, Elizabeth Armitstead (Boels Dolmans Cycling Team)
37, Martine Bras (Boels Dolmans Cycling Team) at 4 mins 47 secs
38, Emily Collins (Wiggle Honda) at 6 mins 58 secs
39, Jolien D'hoore (Lotto Belisol Ladies) at 7 mins 6 secs
40, Eun Gu Sung (Orica - AIS)
41, Kelly Druyts (Topsport Vlaaderen - Bioracer) at 7 mins 7 secs
42, Celine Van Severen (Lotto Belisol Ladies)
43, Hanna Nilsson (Cramo Go:Green)
44, Martina Thomasson (Cramo Go:Green)
45, Loren Rowney (Specialized - Lululemon)
46, Annelies Dom (Cyclelive Plus - Zannata)
47, Willeke Knol (Team Argos - Shimano)
48, Francesca Cauz (Top Girls Fassa Bortolo)
49, Lauren Kitchen (Wiggle Honda)
50, Charlotte Becker (Team Argos - Shimano)
51, Mayuko Hagiwara (Wiggle Honda)
52, Susanna Zorzi (Faren - Let's Go Finland Team)
53, Marion Rousse (Lotto Belisol Ladies)
54, Carmen Small (Specialized - Lululemon)
55, Madelene Olsson (Cramo Go:Green)
56, Evelyn Arys (Sengers Ladies Cycling Team)
57, Katie Colclough (Specialized - Lululemon)
58, Lucinda Brand (Rabobank-Liv/Giant)
59, Karol-Ann Canuel (Vienne Futuroscope)
60, Rushlee Buchanan (Team Tibco - To The Top)
61, Thea Thorsen (Hitec Products UCK)
62, Kaat Hannes (Lotto Belisol Ladies) at 7 mins 13 secs
63, Rossella Ratto (Hitec Products UCK)
64, Emma Trott (Boels Dolmans Cycling Team) at 7 mins 14 secs


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