Chloe Hosking sprints to Ladies Tour of Norway stage two victory.
Chloe Hosking sprinted to victory in Fredrikstad on Saturday, delivering her fourth win of the season for Alé Cipollini. The 26-year-old was tapped as a pre-race favourite ahead of stage two of the Ladies Tour of Norway.
“That’s quite a compliment coming from my peers,” said Hosking. “I definitely came into this race wanting a stage win. I was super motivated today because I think I lost an opportunity yesterday, and I’m not sure how tough tomorrow’s stage is, so I was thinking today could be the last chance. I’m happy I came away with the goods.”
While the stage finished in a bunch sprint, the 140-kilometre race was anything but straightforward. The opening kilometres were extremely fast, and a tailwind prevented an escape from slipping away.
“You could tell the winds were really, really blowing,” noted Hosking. “I knew around 37 kilometres that we made a turn. I didn’t necessarily think the race would blow up, but I definitely thought it would thin out. That’s exactly what happened.”
Sunweb hit the front of the peloton and their pace split the field. Hosking made the front group selection along with her team.
“Luckily all my teammates had listened to me badgering them in the radio to get to the front,” said Hosking. “For the next 20-25km, it was pretty strung out with people fighting for position, but we were never going in one direction for long enough, so it sort of settled from around 80km until we got to the finish circuits.”
Stage three finished with three laps around the 5.8-kilometre Fredrikstad city centre circuit. Each lap included cobbles, tight turns and a small climb.
“I was really nervous about the finish lap,” said Hosking. “It was crazy. Sometimes I think you wonder what people are thinking when they set these laps. I don’t know if there were any crashes, but we were lucky it wasn’t raining. Positioning is so key in finishes like this.”
In the first of the three circuit laps, a group of four forced clear. The quartet stretched out their advantage to nearly one minute on lap two, but the chase had begun to peg them back on lap three. The natural course of the chase was disrupted by a rising bridge in the last lap.
“The bridge drama — I was following Romy, Soraya and Anna, trying to stay calm in the final, and the girls were keeping me out of trouble and not too close to the front too early,” said Hosking. “There was a break just up the road and then all of sudden we rounded a corner, and I saw the motos stopping and the boom gates going down and the whole peloton stopping.
“Luckily the girls had moved me up to the front, so when we stopped, we were right at the front,” Hosking added. “I was told afterwards that it was meant to be all sorted and no bridges or anything would go up but then someone went home from work and the message got lost.”
Because the breakaway’s gap had been below 30 seconds when they reached the bridge, the breakaway was back in the bunch for the race re-start.
“I was a bit spooked by the situation because we were essentially doing a mass start five-kilometre sprint,” said Hosking. “It was super technical but I managed to find my position again and surf wheels to stay well-positioned.”
Hosking glued herself to Ellen van Dijk’s (Sunweb) wheel as the Dutchwoman lled through the final technical corner. Hosking opened her sprint at 175 metres. Marianne Vos (WM3 Energie) attempted to close in on Hosking before the line, but Hosking proved quicker.
“I’m super happy to win today,” said Hosking. “I’ve put in some really good work post-Giro. You know when you’re strong but when the results don’t show on paper, it’s hard to show that to other people. It’s a bit of a mental game. I’ve had to tell myself: ‘Chloe you’re strong, you’re strong, you’re strong, the results will come.’ ”
“It’s been awhile between drinks,” she noted. “To get a win is really great. Obviously the girls have time and time again given me the best train in the women’s peloton, and I haven’t delivered so to deliver today it’s a victory for the girls.
“It’s also world selection time, and I feel like there is a bit of Aussie rivalry in the peloton, which I hate,” Hosking added. “Usually that should be reserved for Olympic years. To get a win on the board at this time of year is quite nice.”