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Jolien D’hoore wins BeNe Ladies Tour opening stage in a four-rider breakaway

Wiggle Honda Pro Cycling’s Jolien D’hoore won the opening stage of the 2015 BeNe Ladies Tour, in Philippine, Belgium, close to the Netherlands border, after escaping in a group of four with teammate Chloe Hosking. Floortje Mackaij, riding for the De Jonge Renner/Liv-Plantur mixed team, finished second, with Italian Champion Elena Cecchini (Lotto-Soudal) in third. Having worked hard to lead out Belgian Champion D’hoore, Hosking crossed the line in fourth place, eight seconds behind, with Mackaij’s teammate Lucy Garner leading the peloton across the line after 24 seconds.

“It was a short stage, but it was a good stage!” D’hoore laughed.

The 78km stage was made up of two long, 33.4km laps, followed by a short, 9.9km finishing circuit. D’hoore and Hosking managed to join a breakaway in the opening lap, but the decisive break was to come on lap two.

“We tried to split the bunch from the start, because there was a crosswind,” D’hoore explained. “It didn’t work it out, so I tried again on the cobbled section. We got away, but it came back together again for the first intermediate sprint – luckily I took the seconds – and then the race exploded on the second lap because there was an attack from Chloe on the cobbled section.

“Floortje Mackaij followed, with Elena Cecchini, and then me,” she added. “That’s where we got away.”

Once clear the four riders worked well together, despite their being two from Wiggle Honda Pro Cycling, and between them they managed to hold off the chase from the peloton behind them.

“The gap after the cobbled section was about 20 seconds,” said D’hoore. “The cooperation in our group was really good, and the gap went up to about 30 seconds. Then we came to the sprint, and I thought that Cecchini or Mackaij would try something to avoid the sprint, but they just stayed in the wheel and didn’t try anything. I was a bit surprised by that, but it was good for us!”

D’hoore came into the BeNe Tour after riding the Giro Rosa, while Hosking has been away from racing since the Philadelphia Classic in early June. Despite the two riders’ different paths to the race, however, the partnership that was the foundation for so much success in the Spring – including D’hoore’s victories in the Omloop van Het Hageland, the Ronde van Drenthe, and at the Energiewacht Tour – clicked back into place almost immediately.

“In the Giro I did my work for the team, and then when it was uphill I was just in the gruppetto,” D’hoore explained. “I just did my kilometres, and I did some proper training, and then I pulled out of the race in the last two days. I got some good recovery, so actually it was really perfect as preparation for the rest of the season.

“I’m really happy she’s back,” D’hoore said of teammate Hosking. “We could understand each other perfectly in the race, and she was really good for a first race back – as well as the other girls!”

Also in the team were double track World Champion Nettie Edmondson and 20-year-old Welsh rider Amy Roberts. Like Hosking, both riders returned from long periods away from racing, with Edmondson taking a break after the Aviva Women’s Tour, and Roberts having recovered from a fractured collarbone. Both were able to contribute to the team’s success, with Wiggle Honda Pro Cycling working to make the race uncomfortable for the other teams in the race.

“Egon told us to make the race hard, and the perfect place to do it is on the cobbled section,” D’hoore smiled.

D’hoore’s victory earns the Belgian Champion both the Overall Leader’s jersey, and that of the Points Classification leader. The 25-year-old will start tomorrow’s short, stage 2b time trial last and, thanks to the short distance, hopes to hold on to her race lead into the afternoon’s stage 2b road race.

“Last year the TT was about nine kilometres, and this year it’s a bit more than six, so it should suit me more than the one from last year,” she confirmed.

1. Jolien D’hoore (Wiggle Honda Pro Cycling)

2. Floortje Mackaij (De Jonge Renner/Liv-Plantur)
3. Elena Cecchini (Lotto-Soudal)
4. Chloe Hosking (Wiggle Honda Pro Cycling)


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