|Anna-Bianca Schnitzmeier was the best finisher for Wiggle Honda Pro Cycling in the women’s Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, in 25th place, as the team had no luck in the European season opener. The freezing cold conditions in Gent, Belgium, saw the peloton stay together for the first half of the 125km race, but the succession of tough Flemish climbs in the middle of the course served to split it into several pieces.Schnitzmeier was in the front half of the peloton, along with Wiggle Honda Pro Cycling teammate Emily Collins, but when the race was shattered on the ferociously steep cobbles of the Paterberg, both riders found themselves trapped behind the split as the winning 13-rider move got away.
With several teams having multiple riders in the leading group it was impossible to chase it down once the gap had been established. The race was won by Australian Tiffany Cromwell of Orica-AIS, who outsprinted US champion Megan Guarnier of Rabobank-Liv/Giant, after the two of them escaped the others with 15km to go. Cromwell’s teammate, Swedish champion Emma Johansson, won the sprint for third place from the chasing group.
“We were riding for Lauren [Kitchen] today, but she had a bit of a crash and she said it affected her gears,” explained Wiggle Honda Pro Cycling directeur sportif Simon Cope after the race.
“Anna obviously had some good legs though, and ended up in that second group, which is a pretty good ride really,” he added. “Orica seem to be dominating everything at the moment, but Anna’s ride was a really positive performance.”
Also performing beyond expectations in the biggest race of her career to date was Wiggle Honda Pro Cycling’s youngest rider Amy Roberts; she finished the race safely in the main peloton, which was unfortunately declared to be outside the time limit.
“Another good performance from a young rider was Amy Roberts,” said Cope. “She’s not been training for the road, she’s been working on the track. She finished in the same group as [Argos-Shimano’s junior World champion] Lucy Garner, whose been on loads of road training camps, and for an 18-year-old – and a young 18-year-old at that – to finish that race is very good.”
1. Tiffany Cromwell (Orica-AIS)
2. Megan Guarnier (Rabobank-Liv/Giant)
3. Emma Johansson (Orica-AIS)
4. Annemiek van Vleuten (Rabobank-Liv/Giant)
5. Shelley Olds (Team Tibco-To The Top)
25. Anna-Bianca Schnitzmeier
38. Emily Collins
49. Lauren Kitchen
51. Mayuko Hagiwara
DNF Rochelle Gilmore
DNF Amy Roberts
DNF Joanna Rowsell