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Demi Vollering: I would have loved to win, for Amy

NINOVE BELGIUM FEBRUARY 26 Demi Vollering of Netherlands and Team SD Worx on second place poses on the podium ceremony after the 17th Omloop Het Nieuwsblad 2022 Womens Race a 128km race from Ghent to Ninove OHN22 FlandersClassic WorldTour on February 26 2022 in Ninove Belgium Photo by Luc ClaessenGetty Images
Demi Vollering (Image credit: Getty Images)

Demi Vollering slumped to the tarmac beyond the finish line at Omloop Het Nieuwsblad and sat still as the emotion began to wash over her. As she made her way towards the podium and linked back up with her SD Worx teammates, the tears continued to flow, and they hadn’t stopped by the time she spoke to the media. 

She was disappointed, of course, to have been defeated by Annemiek van Vleuten in the two-up sprint in Ninove, but the reaction stemmed from her friendship with Amy Pieters, who remains unconscious two months after a training crash.

Vollering smilingly dealt with an opening question in her obligatory second-place TV interview, but when asked about her response beyond the line, the emotion returned and the pain was evident on her face.

"I would have loved to win, for Amy," Vollering said, voice cracking, before a long pause. “We just miss her, very much, in everything."

Once the podium ceremony was over, Vollering gathered her thoughts and looked back at her race with mixed feelings. The devastating finish she has shown in the past 12 months might have made her a slight favourite as she approached the line alongside Van Vleuten, but she had to bow to her compatriot. 

Vollering had been the only one able to follow Van Vleuten’s vicious acceleration on the Bosberg and, although she found shelter on the run-in to Ninove - with teammates in the group behind - it was strength that prevailed over speed at the line. 

“If I took over from her then for sure she would attack me, and I had Lotte [Kopecky] behind me so it was better to stay in the wheel,” Vollering told reporters. 

“We know from Annemiek that she’s strong, and she showed it today again. It’s still early in the season, so I hope we can continue to grow in the team and can win next time hopefully.”

As she prepared to finally head back to her team bus, Vollering had a smile on her face, taking heart from the collective display from her SD Worx team. They may have lost Anna van der Breggen - on the bike at least, given the former world champion was directing from the team car - but the Dutch squad appeared just as option-laden as ever during the first Classic of the season. 

Vollering was the one who could follow Van Vleuten and, although she couldn’t convert it, she had the tactical advantage with not just fast-finishing Kopecky but also another new signing Marlen Reusser in the small chase group. With Chantal van den Broeck-Blaak and Elena Cecchini not far behind, there was plenty of cause for optimism for the spring.

“It’s super nice that you have Lotte and Marlen behind you. That for me is perfect, because you know if I come back then we have a second option. That’s really good to have in your mind. It’s super nice to have those two in the team,” Vollering said. 

“It can only get better. We did already a really good job today. We were there in the moments we needed to be and that was perfect. We can only grow more and more.”

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Deputy Editor - Europe. Patrick is an NCTJ-trained journalist who has seven years’ experience covering professional cycling. He has a modern languages degree from Durham University and has been able to put it to some use in what is a multi-lingual sport, with a particular focus on French and Spanish-speaking riders. After joining Cyclingnews as a staff writer on the back of work experience, Patrick became Features Editor in 2018 and oversaw significant growth in the site’s long-form and in-depth output. Since 2021 he has been Deputy Editor - Europe, taking more responsibility for the site’s content as a whole, while still writing and - despite a pandemic-induced hiatus - travelling to races around the world. Away from cycling, Patrick spends most of his time playing or watching other forms of sport - football, tennis, trail running, darts, to name a few, but he draws the line at rugby.