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3rd Omloop Het Volk (women) - 1.2

Belgium, March 16, 2008

Results    2007 Results    Past winners

Untamable Wild strongest in Omloop Het Volk

By Brecht Decaluwé in Deinze

Kirsten Wild (AA-Drink Cycling Team) claims victory
Photo ©: Marc Van Hecke
(Click for larger image)

The women's season's first big clash was contested in the famed hilly region of Flanders during the third edition of the women's Omloop Het Volk, with Dutch rider Kirsten Wild (AA-Drink Cycling Team) taking victory in the race dominated by her squad. The weather gods didn't fancy the women who took part in the Omloop, as the peloton was offered a series of rain showers from start to finish.

The top European rider were present in Deerlijk for the start, with UCI-points points on offer at the race which can lead to an Olympic Games berth, providing they manage to finish within the top-100 of the rankings. The most well known names at the start were inaugural winner Suzanne De Goede, Mirjam Melchers (Team Flexpoint), Judith Arndt (Team High Road) and Trixi Worrack (Equipe Nürnberger Versicherung).

Wild wasn't too surprised about her victory in the third Omloop Het Volk. The Dutch 26 year-old explained that the team's directeur sportif pointed out that it should happen for the team today. "And that's just what we did," Wild smiled. "With Irene Van Den Broeck in front we were allowed to relax in the peloton."

"I'm born with this talent, and I'm not unhappy with it," added Wild of her sprinting abilities. "This race was on my wish list, so I'm delighted I managed to win here. My next goal is the Tour of Flanders, in April."

Wild claimed victory after an early breakaway was caught with 25 kilometres remaining before the finish line in Deinze. After two laps of the finishing circuit, Wild was able to ride away down the home straight after capitalizing on a final corner mistake by lead-out rider Emma Johansson. Wild powered home ahead of German Angela Brodtka (DSB Bank), while team-mate Johansson was able to regroup and join Wild on the podium with her third place.

Runner-up Brodtka wasn't too disappointed with her second placing in the race. "The team we knew that the podium was within our reach," explained the German. "This second place is very good of course"

The 27 year-old Brodtka had a tough day out on the cobbled roads and hills. "The worst thing is the cold, although you get used to it," Brodtka said, referring to the cloudburst that tortured the peloton near Nokere.

Johansson was all smiles when she crossed the finish line in third position. After the finish she expressed that she didn't mind the bad weather too much. "It's typical Belgian weather, isn't it, so it isn't that surprising," the Swedish rider said. "I know the course a little as I live nearby in Zingem, but still I almost went down in the final kilometre.

"I was pulling for Kirsten and almost missed a corner," she recalled. "Kirsten passed me and nobody was able to get her back and I was able to stay in front as well. I'm not really surprised as I knew my legs were very good. This third place is morale boosting for the upcoming races, starting in Italy next week for the World Cup and then of course the Tour of Flanders."

Regina Bruins (Ton Van Bemmelen) was in the early breakaway with Irene Van Den Broeck (AA-Drink) in the Omloop, before attacking Van Den Broeck to take a solo lead for a while. The 21 year-old explained her tactic once reaching the finish line. "I figured that I could try because you never know who will join you in the attack," said Bruins. "A lot of strong girls were riding around me so it was possible to create a strong breakaway group. But, it wasn't to be and we ended up leading the race with only two girls."

Bruins admitted that dropping Van Den Broeck to continue on her own wasn't her best move of the day. "I made some tactical errors and I was a little too enthusiastic; it could've lasted longer with the two of us," admitted the Dutch rider.

Eventually Bruins managed to claim 21st place in the bunch sprint. "Today's race was all about gaining experience," she concluded.

How it unfolded

The 174 women lining up at the start in Deerlijk were warned of what was to follow, with rain already falling hard across the course. Several crashes occurred during the first hour, with the field riding nervously in the wet conditions. Belgian Cyclo-cross champion Loes Sels was one of many riders that came unstuck as the bunch settled into a rythm.

As the peloton reached the cobbled Nokereberg climb at kilometre 60 there was a cloudburst and as the rain flowed in streams through the cobbles AA-Drink profited from the commotion by attacking the field. Irene Van Den Broeck (AA-Drink) wasn't able to draw much of a gap, but when Regina Bruins (Team Ton Van Bemmelen Sports) bridged across the leading duo increased their advantage while several other attacks followed back in the peloton.

The Dutch duo accumulated 30 seconds over a group of three chasers, including: Miho Oki (Menikini-Selle Italia), Sarah Duster (Cervelo) and Anne Van Vleuten (Vrienden van het platteland). Bruins decided the pace wasn't high enough to keep the peloton at bay, so she jumped away from Van Den Broeck.

Van Den Broeck was caught by the three chasers by kilometre 77, while Bruins had pulled a margin of 34 seconds over the quartet. As the race reached Kruishoutem the chasers were 50 seconds down on Bruins, while the peloton was 2.20 minutes behind the sole leader.

When the riders crossed the finish line for the first time, with 20 kilometres to go, Bruins had one minute on the four chasers while Trixi Worrack (Equipe Nürnberger Versicherung) led the peloton a further minute behind. With only two laps around Deinze scheduled the peloton started chasing the five escapees in the hope of a sprint finish. It wasn't long before the gap started to drop rapidly, and in just 15 minutes the group of four was caught, while Bruins' lead had shrunk to just 35 seconds.

With the peloton determined to reign in the rouge leader the speed proved too hot for many, with a large group of riders being dropped at the back. Leader Bruins couldn't hold on much longer in front and the young Dutch woman was caught by the peloton just before the start of the final lap.

A lot of attacks ensued with the peloton returning to status quo and an entire lap of the closing circuit remaining. As the peloton crossed the start/finish line a group of five, including Melchers, Worrack, Christina Becker (Equipe Nürnberger Versicherung), Grace Verbeke (Lotto-Belisol Ladiesteam) and Chantal Beltman (Team High Road), tried to get away. The group's efforts were in vain as the five were caught when the race exited Deinze for the last time. The second half of the peloton that was dropped during the first lap was trailing at 2.50 minutes and was clearly out of contention for the victory with only a dozen of kilometres left to ride.

While riders continued to try and escape the peloton stayed together and steamed towards the finish line. Johansson was pulling out front with team-mate Wild on her wheel in the final kilometre, but the Swedish rider misjudged a corner on the slippery roads and Wild jumped away. Angela Brodtka was unable to hold on to Wild's wheel and the Dutch woman started to pull away on the stretch home.

Johansson managed to regroup, only losing the two positions as a crash behind her held up the other riders. Brodtka did all she could to get Wild back, but she couldn't close the gap down.

Wild had time to enjoy her victory when she crossed the finish line in front of Brodtka and team-mate Johansson. While Wild easily held off Brodtka, Johansson had more trouble holding out Martine Bras (Vrienden Van Het Platteland) and the rest of the women behind her.

Despite being in the early breakaway Japanese woman Miho Oki was able to claim a good seventh place, while Judith Arndt will be disappointed with her 11th spot.

Photography

For a thumbnail gallery of these images, click here

Images by Marc Van Hecke/www.sportfoto.be

Images by Brecht Decaluwé/Cyclingnews.com

Results

1 Kirsten Wild (Ned) AA-Drink Cycling Team                          
2 Angela Brodtka (Ger) Team DSB Bank                                
3 Emma Johansson (Swe) AA-Drink Cycling Team                        
4 Martine Bras (Ned) Vrienden Van Het Platteland                    
5 Tanja Hennes (Ger) Team Specialized Designs For Women             
6 Loes Markerink (Ned) Team Flexpoint                               
7 Miho Oki (Jpn) Menikini - Selle Italia                            
8 An Van Rie (Bel) Vrienden Van Het Platteland                      
9 Francesca Tognali (Ita) Top Girls Fassa Bortolo Raxy Line         
10 Laure Werner (Bel) AA-Drink Cycling Team                         
11 Judith Arndt (Ger) Team High Road Women                          
12 Jennifer Hohl (Swi) Bigla Cycling Team                           
13 Trixi Worrack (Ger) Equipe Nürnberger Versicherung               
14 Aleksandra Wnuczek (Pol) Pol-Aqua                                
15 Arantzazu Azpiroz (Spa) Bizkaia - Durango                        
16 Christel Pourias (Fra) Team Lot-et-Garonne                       
17 Noemi Cantele (Ita) Bigla Cycling Team                           
18 Kelly Druyts (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen Thompson Ladies Team      
19 Chantal Beltman (Ned) Team High Road Women                       
20 Karen Steurs (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen Thompson Ladies Team      
21 Regina Bruins (Ned) Team Ton Van Bemmelen Sports                 
22 Losune Murillo Elkano (Spa) Bizkaia-Durango                      
23 Lieselot Decroix (Bel) Lotto-Belisol Ladiesteam                  
24 Sjoukje Dufoer (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen Thompson Ladies Team    
25 Ludivine Henrion (Bel) AA-Drink Cycling Team                     
26 Anita Valen De Vries (Nor) Team Flexpoint                        
27 Liesbeth De Vocht (Bel) Vrienden Van Het Platteland              
28 Jaccolien Wallaard (Ned) Vrienden Van Het Platteland             
29 Oxana Kozunchuk (Ukr)                                            
30 Emilie Blancquefort (Fra) Vienne Futuroscope

Past winners

2007 Mie Bekker Lacota (Den) Team Flexpoint