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No luck for Wiggle Honda in a crash-marred Omloop Het Nieuwsblad

A series of badly timed crashes kept the riders of Wiggle Honda Pro Cycling from the results in the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, the opening race of the European season, as all but one of the orange and black team was brought down at some point during the 126.7km course. With the crashes coming at strategic parts of the race, the team was unable to regain the front of the peloton.

“There were a whole lot of crashes early on,” said Wiggle Honda Pro Cycling directeur sportif Franky Van Haesebroucke. “We were thinking ‘that’s good, we have nobody in there,’ and then after 50km in one crash we had three of the six girls involved.


“Anna Schnitzmeier was out of the race because she was hurt,” Van Haesebroucke explained. “Emilia Fahlin had a bike change, and I eventually got her back to the peloton just as it hit the [Côte de Trieu] climb after 60km. It’s a small road and, if you arrive at the back of the peloton on those bad roads, you have no chance if it splits.

“Charlotte Becker was in that crash also, and she had to continue with her handlebars crossed, because I couldn’t get to her,” Van Haesebroucke added. “So she was also in a bad position as we hit that climb.”

Having avoided the crashes so far, Wiggle Honda Pro Cycling’s Emily Collins was close to the front of the peloton as it arrived at the Paterberg climb after 65km. Bad luck was also to strike the New Zealander, however, as the pace dropped on the famous cobbled slopes.


“Emily was in a perfect position at the bottom of the Paterberg,” said Van Haesebroucke. “She was sitting in around fifth position, but a girl hit her and she crashed. Her thumb looks really bad, it’s all blue and bruised and I’m a little bit afraid it may be broken. She continued the race, but her hand is really blue so that’s not a good sign.

“The Paterberg is 20%, so it’s not so easy to get back on your bike is not that simple if you’re involved in a crash,” he added.

“Mayuko Hagiwara was the only one who was not involved in a crash. We only had six girls in the bike race, and our luck was over very quickly.”

Despite missing out on the result, however, Van Haesebroucke is confident that the performance in adversity from Wiggle Honda Pro Cycling’s riders bodes well for the races ahead.


“The first few races are always very nervous, and you just have to be lucky,” he reasoned. “We didn’t have the luck on our side; we lost a little battle, but we didn’t lose the war.

“I hope we come out of this race with no fractures,” Van Haesebroucke added. “They all did their best, even though they crashed they were still fighting. They were crying on their bikes because they were bleeding and they had a lot of pain, but they showed a fighting spirit in that they wanted to continue.”

The race was won by Giant-Shimano’s Amy Pieters, ahead of Emma Johansson (Orica-AIS) and Lizzie Armitstead (Boels-Dolmans), after the three of them escaped over the Paterberg and just managed to hold off a chasing group of 20 riders.

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