Former Australian champion Gracie Elvin has taken a consecutive win in Gooik-Geraardsbergen-Gooik, a UCI 1.1 category race.
Starting the race as the defending champion after her courageous win one year ago, Elvin was able handle the added pressure today to successfully defend her title in Gooik after a spectacular performance from the whole ORICA-AIS team.
“We were really in control the whole race today,” said Elvin after her victory. “It was great for us to have so many cards to play and then actually finish it off.”
“I tried to keep a clear head going into the race, we had a good team plan before the race. We’ve really been working since the camp on our tactics and communication so we ticked all the boxes today and we had a lot of confidence in our selves and each other which is also something we have really been working on.
“It just all came together today so it really was perfect for us. Everyone’s in a really good place, good form, training camp went so well, we’ve all been working hard but super lucky to have our great staff who have been facilitating all of this.
“We are all very happy at the moment and it’s exciting to keep moving forward like this.”
Elvin’s teammate Annemiek Van Vleuten made the day’s main, long breakaway along with Emma Johansson (Wiggle-High5) which provided to be the perfect tactical scenario for the team, leaving Elvin to sit comfortable in the chasing group saving her legs to sprint for the victory.
“It was a great day for the team,” said Van Vleuten. “I was able to go with Emma when she attacked on the uphill cobbles with around 50kilometres to go.”
“It was close in the final, I was ready to sprint and then suddenly we were caught. Amanda Spratt did a fantastic counter attack which worked perfectly for us as Boels-Dolmans then had to chase.
“They closed in and I fought back with Gracie on my wheel and started the sprint around 400m to go. I am happy I was still able to lead her out for the sprint and that she was able to win. Overall it was a really amazing day for the team.”
How it happened:
Similar to last year’s race the peloton were given wet, harsh conditions for the 136.2km course.
ORICA-AIS took to the start line as the defending champions, beaming with confidence after Van Vleuten’s gutsy ride two days early were she fought to finish in second place at the Boels-Rental Hills Classic.
The typical Belgian race, much like a spring classic, meant the riders had to contest with twisty narrow roads and a selection of tough cobble climbs which included the famous Muur, Bosberg and Congoberg climbs.
An early breakaway of four riders kicked off the day’s proceedings and as their advantage grew ORICA-AIS saw the danger as Elvin and Van Vleuten were able to bridge across in a small group to form a leading group of eleven riders.
The peloton raced over the continuous section of climbs and the chasing group worked well together led by Boels-Dolmans to close in on the leaders.
It wasn’t long after when Van Vleuten, along with Johansson, broke away on the Congoberg and rapidly rode out to a one-minute 30second advantage, a dangerous move which looked likely to stay away.
However it wasn’t to be, as the chase group slowly began to reel in the duo and with just eight kilometres remaining the pair’s advantage dropped down to just 10seconds. With the chasing group in sight they held on until the final kilometres.
This set the scene for a perfect scenario for ORICA-AIS and with just two kilometres remaining with around 20riders still in contact, Australian champion Spratt launched an attack causing the remaining bunch to string out giving Elvin a smooth run to the line.
The victory today highlights the consistent spring for the whole ORICA-AIS team, placing on the podium in the previous three races.
Last week the team took third place from Sarah Roy, followed by second place for Van Vleuten and capped off with today’s first place for Elvin. Not to mention Rachel Neyan’s victory yesterday in GP-Plumelec where she won solo racing with the Australian National Team.
1. Gracie Elvin (ORICA-AIS)
2. Lotte Kopecky (Lotto-Soudal Ladies)
3. Elise Delzenne (Lotto-Soudal Ladies)