Chloe Hosking sprints to first European win of the season
Chloe Hosking took her first European win of the season at Drentse Acht van Westerveld on Sunday. The 143-kilometre Dutch one-day classic ended in a reduced bunch sprint in Dwingeloo. Hosking won by a comfortable margin over Lotte Kopecky (Lotto Soudal Ladies) and world champion Amalie Dideriksen (Boels-Dolmans).
“I saw a photo straight after the finish of the gap I had as I crossed the line,” said Hosking.
“I couldn’t believe the distance I was able to put into the group in the last 200 metres. I’ve been working on my explosive power in the gym over the off-season, so I’m happy to see that is now transferring to the bike.”
Happier still because the win comes off the back of disappointment on Saturday. Hosking was isolated in the finale of Ronde van Drenthe, the second round of the UCI Women’s WorldTour. Morale was low following the race.
“I had to talk to some of my teammates because they were pretty disappointed yesterday,” said Hosking. “We rode really well up until the last time up the VAMberg, and in the end it was only 12-15 that made it over the top. It was super selective anyway. We talked about staying positive and all the good things we could take away from Drenthe, even without getting a result.
“When the big race comes the day before a smaller one, a lot of people check out the next day,” Hosking added. “That’s not what happened with this team. Everyone was motivated. Everyone fought hard for position. We had numbers in the end, which was our weakness yesterday. I’m really proud of how we bounced back.”
Drentse Acht van Westerveld, or Drentse 8, borrows from the Ronde van Drenthe course. The peloton races over cobbles and takes in two ascents of the infamous VAMberg, a man-made climb made of garbage, before coming back to Dwingeloo for three times around the local circuit. Sunday was windier than Saturday. Teams used that wind to make the race hard from the start.
“Bigla tired to split it in the crosswinds,” noted Hosking. “They had some success, and the bunch was definitely smaller by the middle of the race, but the wind wasn’t in the right direction to do real damage.
“The race split properly over the VAMberg,” Hosking added. “We had both me and Janneke [Ensing] in that but Boels and WM3 missed it. They chased us back.”
The wind direction had changed, injecting a bit of calm into the peloton following the two times up the VAMberg.
“That was nice,” said Hosking. “I could sit in the middle of the peloton and spin my legs. Janneke, Romy [Kasper] and Soraya [Paladin] were closer to the front going with anything dangerous. Their work allowed me to conserve.”
Crosswinds in a canal section spelt an end to the calm. Team Sunweb upped the pace. The peloton split. Thirty riders had made the front group selection, including Hosking, Ensing and Kasper.
“ORICA had numbers and they were firing girls off the front in the last two laps,” said Hosking. “I was a bit of a taskmaster. I kept telling Romy and Janneke to cover moves. I think they wanted to kill me by the last lap, but they got the job done, and the win the end made up for it – I hope!”
Fifteen hundred metres from the finish, Hosking glued onto Barbara Guarischi’s (CANYON//SRAM) wheel.
“I had Romy and Janneke just behind me, and I knew if things went pear-shaped in the last kiloemtre, they would be there to help re-position me,” Hosking said. “In the end, Elena Cecchini [CANYON//SRAM) brought Barbara to the front with about 500 metres to go and was keeping the pace really high.
“I was sort of half on Barbara’s wheel and half fighting the Sunweb train,” Hosking added. “With 300 metres to go, I knew I had to launch my sprint soon or I would get swamped from behind and lose a clear run to the finish.”
She jumped somewhere between 250-220 metres from the line.
“It was an early start, especially after 142 kilometres,” Hosking noted. “I launched down the right side, putting my head down and just going for it. I thought maybe I had gone too early, but with 75 metres to go, I looked under my arm and couldn’t see a front wheel in sight.”
A proper Italian celebration followed.
“There’s a lot of hugging and kissing and ‘Brava! Brava!’,” explained Hosking. “I saw it with Emilio [Emilia Fahlin] last year in Sweden and was hoping I would get some of my own this year. Hopefully there’s more of that to come in the next few months.”
Hosking has won in Dwingeloo once before. In 2012, while riding for Specialized-lululemon, it was a break-out win – the first spring classics victory for the then 21-year-old. She’s come a long way in the ensuing five years
“Any bike race in Europe is a big win, but obviously Saturday’s race was the big one,” said Hosking, referring to Ronde van Drenthe. “I’m still happy to be on top of the podium, and there were quality sprinters in the field. I can take confidence and relief from the result. It’s always nice to get the first win in Europe ticked off, but at this point in my career, I want to be winning Women’s WorldTour races.”