Pieters victorious at Dwars door Vlaanderen
Amy Pieters claimed her second consecutive victory at the women’s Dwars door Vlaanderen (GP Waregem), beating her Liv-Plantur teammate Floortje Mackaij in a two-up sprint. The pair had distanced their breakaway companion Else Belmans (Austoglas Wetteren CT) with 25 kilometres remaining.
The peloton were closing in quickly on the leaders but it was too late and the Liv-Plantur riders sprinted against each other for the victory, with Pieters coming up trumps. Christina Siggaard (Matrix Fitness) won the bunch sprint nine seconds later.
“We tried to make it an aggressive race so we kept pushing for the small breakaways. In the end it was very small, with just Floortje and I! Even after a good training yesterday I still felt good today and it was a nice team performance,” Pieters said.
Mackaij added: “I was feeling good today and have been since winning on Sunday. I spoke with Amy in the race and we were both really up for it. With 25km to go I jumped in the crosswinds with Amy on my wheel and we got a gap straight away. From then on we just pushed on and ended up just us two. In the sprint at the end Amy was a bit stronger but it is good that every race now I am getting better and stronger.”
Sergio Henao back to racing
Sergio Henao (Team Sky) will make his return to racing at Coppi e Bartali this Thursday, after nine months out of action. Henao is racing for the first time following a crash, during team time trial training at last year’s Tour de Suisse, that resulted in a serious knee injury.
“I’m ecstatic to be back racing and to be able to return to this level,” Henao told teamsky.com. “I feel ready to come back. I want to make the most out of this opportunity and I want to repay the team for its trust and dedication in helping me. I am excited to get started and I want to return to winning races in the future.”
Henao was making his comeback to racing at the Tour de Suisse, after the team pulled him from the programme to investigate anomalies in his biological passport, when the crash happened. Both incidents together mean that Henao has only competed in three races in the past 12 months. Team Sky are defending champions at Coppi e Bartali, after winning four of the five stages in 2014 but the team are not expecting too much of the Colombian.
“The whole team is incredibly happy to see Sergio return to racing. The amazing resilience he has shown in coming back from such a significant injury has inspired everyone,” said team principal Dave Brailsford. “This race is the next step for Sergio in his recovery plan. He’s under no pressure to perform and the key for him is to get back into the rhythm of racing in the peloton.”
Joining Henao will be Ian Boswell, Philip Deignan, Nathan Earle, Kanstantsin Siutsou, Ben Swift and Chris Sutton.
LottoNL-Jumbo for E3 Harelbeke
Sep Vanmarcke will be looking to lead from the front when he heads up the LottoNL-Jumbo team at E3 Harelbeke. Vanmarcke is one of the few cobbles contenders that didn’t race at Milan-San Remo on Sunday and will be raring to go and he’s looking to test the legs of his rivals this Friday.
“I need to have a very good day, and a little bit of luck. I fear that if there will not be a big crash like last year, a lot of riders will be able to survive the hill section. We have to set a high pace to prevent that. If you want to win, the peloton has to fall back in pieces,” said Vanmarcke, who is confident of his form despite falling ill last week.
“The reason for the fact that I didn’t feel great in Tirreno was due to some physical problem. I was a little bit ill and that manifested itself in some aches,” he said. “Fortunately, that illness didn’t worsen. I conquered it, and found my good feeling. I had to survive Tirreno to return in my best shape back home. I wasn’t really doubtful about my form, anyway. I knew I was in perfect condition. My performance in Strade Bianche proved that.”
LottoNL-Jumbo for E3 Harelbeke: Jos van Emden, Rick Flens, Tom Leezer, Bram Tankink, Maarten Tjallingii, Sep Vanmarcke, Robert Wagner and Maarten Wynants