Getränke Hoffman's bumpy ride

All things considered, Team Getränke Hoffmann was satisfied with its 29th, 56th and 58th place finishes in the women's Ronde van Vlaanderen last weekend. Two of its riders didn't even make it to the start, and a series of crashes and flat tires handicapped or eliminated others.

Things started going bad on Good Friday, when Theresa Senff was involved in an car accident which , which sent her briefly to hospital and prevented her from travelling to the race. Then, Angela Brodtka got sick and likewise couldn't make the journey.

Actually, the race started out well. Birgit Hollmann broke away and built up a lead of up to 30 seconds, before a flat tire stopped her on the first cobblestone passage. She had to wait so long for help that the entire peloton passed her, but she fought her way back to the group. Another flat tire made her take the bike of teammate Sandra Missbach, who subsequently dropped out of the race. Natalie Bates had to drop out after being involved in a mass crash. And further flat tires cost the teams "nerves and time."

Directeur sportif Torsten Wittig commented, "Of course we were initially disappointed with our race results. But the girls accomplished great things, especially Birgit Hollmann. Despite a series of disasters she rode a great race. This race was to let us know where we stand. We know now that we can hold our own and that we aren't there to watch the others, but to attack them."

The team also had good news to report. Senff has recovered from the concussion and swollen shoulder she suffered from her accident, and both she and Brodtka are expected to race again this weekend.

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