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Loes Gunnewijk won the women’s European season opener as she beat Ellen Van Dijk (Specialized-lululemon) in a two-up sprint. The Omloop Het Nieuwsblad victory continues the GreenEdge-AIS winning streak. The women’s team has won every stage race, omnium and one day race they have contested in their maiden season.
“It’s really special for me to take my first win and for us to win the first European race of the season to continue our winning streak,” said Gunnewijk. “We have a really good spirit and work ethic in the team. Everyone wants to work for the leader in any given race. We’re happy to race as a team, and this is obvious in our results.”
GreenEdge had a straightforward plan for the day.
“We decided that I should be kept safe in the final,” explained Gunnewijk. “The ideal situation would give me one or two teammates in a front group so that we could play with several options. We succeeded pretty well in following this plan.”
A large, nervous field rode together for the first 50 kilometers. They covered two of the seven climbs on course without any major attacks.
“We wanted to ride easy and stay safe in the first half of the race,” Gunnewijk noted. “Other teams seemed to have this idea, too.”
A group of 12 formed on the Côte de Trieu, the day’s third climb, and GreenEdge put three riders in the move. Tiffany Cromwell and Amanda Spratt joined Gunnewijk up the road.
“We were the only team to have three in the breakaway,” said Gunnewijk. “We worked well together in the break. It was a hard day.”
Gunnewijk launched her winning move on the second to last cobbled section.
“Twenty kilometres before the finish, I attacked on the cobblestones, and I immediately got a gap,” Gunnewijk explained. “I rode alone for five kilometres, and then Ellen came up to me. We shared the work until the finish and I beat her in a sprint to the line.”
GreenEdge will continue it’s European campaign on Wednesday with Le Samyan.