Guest Blog: Omloop van het Hageland winner Jolien D’hoore takes you inside the race
Jolien D’hoore had a break-through year in 2014 racing for the Lotto-Belisol Ladies team. She won stages in the Holland Ladies Tour, BeNe Ladies Tour and of course the Belgian National Championship title among many other results.
It seems like her 2015 is heading in the same direction, she just won Omloop van het Hageland yesterday and leads the Lotto Cup competition. I’ve been racing against the current Belgian road race champion for years but it wasn’t until I rocked up to the first UCI race of the 2015 season with my Wiggle Honda team – the Ladies Tour of Qatar – that I got to race with her. She signed for Wiggle a few month before I did. It’s funny in cycling, you can race against someone for years and never have a proper conversation with them and then all of sudden you’re teammates.
In Qatar Jolien sacrificed having a great result herself to help me chase the yellow jersey. In the end I fell 12-seconds short and finished second overall but I was so thankful for everything that she had done over the four stages for a teammate she barely knew. For me, how we raced together in Qatar was a great omen for the rest of the season. I had no doubt as we piled onto the the plane back to Brussels that together we could be a great team.
Yesterday I was able to repay Jolien for all her hard work in Qatar. But enough from me, check out her awesome blog about winning Omloop van het Hageland (yes I pestered yet another of my teammates to join my guest blogging club):
Imagine yourself this: sun is out, 20+ degrees, beginning of March, no wind… Well, believe it or not, that was the day we had to race the 1.2 Lotto Cycling Cup race in Tielt-Winge, Belgium. Yes exactly, Belgium.
The Wiggle-Honda line-up for today’s race was Anna Christian, Eileen Roe, Emilia Fahlin (who got sick that day), Chloe Hosking and myself.
Nothing special you would say but you have to know that Chloe rode the famous Strade Bianche the day before. After the race she had to make a 13hr (!) ride in the car to get to Belgium. That’s what I call team commitment! This describes very well the atmosphere in the team we have right now, one for all and all for one.
The race went over 1 big lap of about 50km and 5 local laps of 13km. Our DS Egon told us in the team meeting before the race, there was 1 cobbled climb in the big lap where ‘something’ could happen. The local laps were more attractive with a dragging hill in each lap. We’re sitting in the camper during the team meeting while we are pinning our numbers on. This is becoming a routine together with the weekly rice cake! Everybody knows what we could expect and we’re ready to give it a go!
The race kicked off and from the start it was very nervous and dangerous riding. You had to be 100% focused to avoid crashing. For once, I was happy there popped up an uphill road where you could take back your place in front of the peloton. As we were told, we rode together as a team to the bottom of the cobbled climb.
Eileen dropped us at the bottom in first position. Chloe rode up the climb in a fast pace, I was in her wheel. No damage was made though but at least we showed ourselves for the first time in the race as a team!
Into the local laps there were some solo attacks but none of the bigger teams had showed their guns yet. In the second last lap Evie Stevens made the decisive move on the climb (of course) with 10 other girls sticking on her wheel including Chloe and I.
“I only did what I was told to but after the finish I realized it: Oh shit we just won this race!”
In just a few kilometres the gap was already 1 minute. We waited and prepared ourselves for attacks of our fellow breakaway colleagues in the final lap but nothing happened. So sprinting it was! My teammate Chloe told me already before the race she would work for me today, no matter what she would do the lead out. I just needed to follow…
And that’s how it was, Evie Stevens set the pace with 800m to go, Chloe took over with 400m to go and then finally it was my turn to come out in the very last metres.
I only did what I was told to but after the finish I realized it: Oh shit we just won this race!!! We did it!!! I was so happy to finish off some great team work! The girls were really motivated and incredibly strong, especially Chloe after such a weekend.
This has been a good weekend for our team with a 3rd place for Elisa in an epic Strade Bianche and the victory in Tielt-Winge. I’m sure many more victories will come. This is only the beginning of an exciting 2015 for Wiggle-Honda!