Team High Road's Judith Arndt is one of the most experienced members of the women's peloton. Nevertheless, victory in this weekend's fifth edition of the Ronde Van Vlaanderen for women was celebrated as if it was her first. Cyclingnews' Ben Atkins spoke to the German former World champion on the morning after her Classic win to discuss her success, her team, and her goals for the rest of her season.
The Ronde Van Vlaanderen is one of the five Monuments of one day cycling in the men's calendar and, despite its short history; the women's peloton holds victory in the race in the same high regard. It is still almost surprising though, that a rider with the experience of Judith Arndt, with victories that include last year's Thüringen-Rundfahrt and the 2004 World championships, should be so excited by her victory this week.
"It's like you say: it's a monument in cycling," she enthused, "and ja, to win this race, it's like winning the World Championships."
This is something that Arndt can speak with authority about, having taken the rainbow jersey in the road race in Verona in 2004. "It's the same, really," she continued, "because you have to be as fit as it gets and you need a really strong team and you need a lot of luck as well, and if everything falls together then you might be the winner. Really, it's like a dream."
Talk of World championships and luck briefly takes the conversation back in time to Stuttgart last autumn where a collapsed barrier cost Arndt - and a number of other favourites - the chance of being able to contest the finish with the likes of winner Marta Bastianelli. She remains quite philosophical on the subject though: "Yeah well," she said, "you know it's [bad] luck but also sometimes you are always up at the wrong places... I don't know if it's luck - it's your own fault also, it's not always unlucky."
Returning to the weekend's Ronde victory: the whole race seemed to come together as a masterly display of team riding (from both High Road and Cervelo Lifeforce, but with High Road coming out on top). They managed to place riders in all the main breaks, and as well as Arndt's victory, team-mate Oenone Wood finished in fourth place. This kind of thing does not happen by chance though, but has to be planned well in advance.
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