Race report

Floortje Mackaij 3rd after brutal day of racing at Omloop Het Nieuwsblad

Omloop Het Nieuwsblad

Today saw the peloton take on the first of the classics at Omloop Het Nieuwsblad. With the forecast predicting strong winds and rain, mixed in with numerous cobbled sections and climbs, it was sure to be a tough day out it in the saddle.

Despite numerous attacks early in the afternoon and a break of three that managed to gain one minute over the peloton, the race was back together before the first section of cobbles. It became a race of attrition, as the wind and rain battered the peloton. The team were attentive and split the race in the crosswinds, reducing the bunch even further.

Floortje Mackaij and Franziska Koch made a front group of 21 riders with 40 kilometres to go. That group would work well together and hold off the chasing peloton, with the 21 riders together at the foot of the Muur. Eventual race winner Van Vleuten made a stinging attack from the bottom of the climb, with Mackaij the only rider able to initially follow. However, once onto the cobbled section of the ascent Van Vleuten kicked again and pulled away from Mackaij.

Waiting up for a chase group of four riders that joined her, Mackaij and those in her group combined forces in an attempt to reach the head of the race. Despite their best efforts they wouldn’t be able to make it and instead fought it out in the sprint for second place. Mackaij showed how gutsy she is, digging deep all the way to the line and taking a strong third place at the finish.

“Today was an epic race with the bad weather; I really, really liked it,” smiled Mackaij after the race. “I felt from the beginning that I was really good and from the start of the day the girls were with me all the time, which gave me even more confidence. After the Molenberg I tried to save as much energy as possible for the important moments. Towards the Muur Franziska did an amazing job and she brought me into a perfect position. I started the climb well but I just couldn’t follow Annemiek’s wheel. She then sped up again halfway up the Muur and opened the gap. I was then in the group behind and we worked together to try and catch her but we knew with three kilometres to go it wasn’t going to work so there was a lot of looking around. I focused on the sprint, and I know the sprint here is not like a normal one so I had to be really sharp at the end and go all the way to the line. The team did a great job today so I’m happy to get third place here.”

Team Sunweb coach Hans Timmermans added: “It was a great race from the team today, especially from Floortje who showed she had great legs on the Muur and in the final. The third place is a good reward for us after her ride today. During the race we lost Julia at a key moment with a puncture. It was a shame because I think we could have been more dominant towards the Paddestraat; we needed to use other riders early because of it. That’s also the reason why I think we didn’t have more numbers in the front group. In general though, I think we can be really happy with the team effort we did today, and getting a really nice third place in the opening classic of the season.”

Results

Pos. Rider Team Time Points
1 VAN VLEUTEN Annemiek Mitchelton-Scott 3:34:55 125
2 BASTIANELLI Marta Alé BTC Ljubljana 0:42 85
3 MACKAIJ Floortje Team Sunweb ,, 70