Women's World Cup leader Jolien D’hoore will lead the Wiggle Honda team in Sunday’s Gent-Wevelgem race with a strong supporting cast that includes Chloe Hosking, Amy Roberts, Eileen Roe and Anna Christian.
Jolien D’hoore, who skips the second round of the World Cup in Italy, has prioritised the Belgian Classics this season and has hit the ground running with a win in Omloop van het Hageland as well as the first round of the World Cup at Ronde van Drenthe in Holland.
“The season has been a great start so far and I’ve two big wins under my belt already. A lot of that is because of how well the team has helped me and they’ve made it a lot easier for me,” she told Cyclingnews.
“The plan from the start of the season was to ride Gent-Wevelgem because that was one of my biggest goals together with the Tour of Flanders. Having the World Cup leader’s jersey doesn’t change the fact that I’ll do Gent-Wevelgem because we have a strong team to do (Trofeo Afredo) Binda, and that’s not my sort of race. I prefer the Belgian classics and that’s why I’m in the team.”
“The World Cup overall wasn’t a main goal at the start of the season but obviously I wanted to go for a World Cup win. I’ve got that already and now I’m going to look at the Tour of Flanders for another.”
D’hoore upsurge in form has coincided with overall improvements at Wiggle Honda in the last few weeks. The team signed a raft of new riders at the start of the year and at the Tour of Qatar they were still finding their feet while Boels Dolmans set up a number of stage wins and the overall title with Lizzie Armitstead.
“I don’t think Qatar was that bad for the team,” D’hoore told Cyclingnews.
“We won the team classification and it was our first race together. That was the first time I’d met the girls and we didn’t have training camp so that was our first time together but the more you race together the more you get to know each other and that’s paying off right now.”
Sunday’s race will see a number of strong teams embark on the Belgian cobbles including Shelley Olds, Kirsten Wild, Charlotte Becker and Amy Pieters. According to D’hoore the demanding course and poor conditions that are expected should reduce the field to just a handful of riders before the finish.
“It’s a course for a sprinter or a classics rider but the weather conditions are meant to be really bad with wind and rain. It’s going to be tough race and I can’t see it coming down to a bunch sprint.”