Jolien D’hoore may have been the most prolific rider in the women’s peloton on the road in 2015, but she is already switching her focus back to the track as she begins preparation for her major 2016 goal: the Olympic Games in Rio.
The 25-year-old racked up 13 wins on the road over the course of the season, with two rounds of the Women’s World Cup (Ronde van Drenthe and Open de Suède Vårgårda), stages at the Women’s Tour and Boels Rental Ladies’ Tour, the overall at the BeNE Ladies’ Tour, and another defense of the Belgian national road race title. It was the first season where she had focused wholly on the road, and it paid off.
She will still ride several road races next season, with the Tour of Flanders a particular goal, but the priority is back on the boards for the Olympic Omnium.
"If I had to choose between a victory in at Flanders or an Olympic medal, I would certainly go for the latter," she said, according to Sporza, in Lanzarote, where the national team was holding a training camp.
"Olympic Games are only every four years, while I will still get plenty of chances in Flanders.”
D’hoore was fifth in the Omnium at the London 2012 Olympics at the age of 22 but feels that she'll be in a far better position by the time Rio rolls around next summer. That's because her time on the road has served her well in terms of developing her capabilities, but also because of the way the Omnium has been recalibrated to afford more weight to the points race finale.
"Compared to three years ago, I've become a lot stronger, I've developed a lot more endurance. I used to feel really tired after a four-hour training session. Now I recover much faster," said D'hoore.
"The season on the road has made me much better. I immediately won the first World Cup race in Drenthe, which I did not expect. It gave the whole team a boost. The combination track and road is ideal for me. Thanks to the combination, my base became much bigger. Endurance can play a role in the points race, now the center of the omnium."
That reorganisation of the omnium is something D'hoore feels will give her an edge over the reigning Olympic and European champion Laura Trott, who looks to be the woman to beat. There will be stiff competition from all angles, though, and the Belgian is not fixing her sights on gold - a medal of any colour would be a hugely satisfying success.
"Everything will be decided in the points race, and that plays to my advantage. It can make a big difference. For someone like Trott it is a disadvantage because it's not her strongest event.
"Most people say it’s obvious that I am a medal contender but I'm trying to just keep quiet and work towards winning that medal. It depends on the opposition, but I'll go all out for a medal. I’m putting a lot of pressure on myself, but I always do. I try to get the most out of myself and live it 100 percent."