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D'hoore boosts morale for Worlds with Madrid Challenge win

Victory for Jolien D'hoore (Wiggle High5) in the Madrid Challenge for the second year in a row has allowed the Belgian National Champion to continue her superb build-up for the upcoming UCI Road World Championships. However, she does not see herself as one of the top contenders for Bergen.

"My shape is pretty good, but I wasn't planning to be so good already," D'hoore told reporters after her third victory in a week and seventh WorldTour win this season. "I'm looking forward to the Worlds. Maybe the course is a bit too hard for me, but I'm not one of the favourites, so I can just follow and I'll have to see how it goes."

D'hoore powered out from near the barriers to take the win Sunday against Coryn Rivera (Team Sunweb) by more than half a wheel on the slightly uphill finish in Madrid's Paseo de la Castellana. Once again, and for the third year running, a bunch sprint decided the final round of the womens' WorldTour.

"It means a lot, it's the last [WorldTour] race of the year and I won it last year and I wanted to repeat it. But it's never easy to win, and there are some good sprinters here, so I'm happy to pull it off," D'hoore said afterwards.

"In the first half of the race I stayed with Julie [Leth]. She protected me and keep me at out of the wind and I could save a lot of energy, and then in the end I had a lot of help from my team-mates, and especially Emilia Fahlin. She stayed with me in the whole last kilometre and she put me in a great position in the end."

The sprint itself, she said, had seen her jumping between two teams, Sunweb and Cipollini, with a full lead out, and then finally opting for the Sunweb train before the final corner.

"I wanted to go already, then I hesitated slightly, so I was a bit boxed in," D'hoore said. "But I could find a gap in the end, and luckily it was enough."

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Alasdair Fotheringham

Alasdair Fotheringham has been reporting on cycling since 1991. He has covered every Tour de France since 1992 bar one, as well as numerous other bike races of all shapes and sizes, ranging from the Olympic Games in 2008 to the now sadly defunct Subida a Urkiola hill climb in Spain. As well as working for Cyclingnews, he has also written for The IndependentThe GuardianProCycling, The Express and Reuters.