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Johansson set to defend title at Boels Rental Hills Classic

Emma Johannson was clearly pleased with her win

Emma Johannson was clearly pleased with her win (Image credit: Rob Lampard)

The world-class women's field will reconvene after a short hiatus at the UCI 1.1 Boels Rental Hills Classic held on May 29 in Sittard, Netherlands.

The classic-style races continue for the women with a series of one-day races in the Netherlands and Belgium. The Boels Rental Hills Classic will kick off those one-day races with a 131km course that ventures through the Dutch hills in and around Limburg. The parcours offers 1,500 metres of elevations gain over 15 bergs and two trips up the Cauberg climb before finishing up the Geulhemmerweg.

Last year, Emma Johansson (Orica-AIS) stole the victory from a three-woman sprint. Mid-race, six riders went clear of the peloton that included Roxane Knetemann (Rabobank-Liv), Sabrina Stultiens (Rabobank-Liv), Ellen van Dijk (Boels-Dolmans), Katarzyna Pawlowska (Boels-Dolmans) and Amy Pieters (Giant Shimano).

The three podium finishers emerged from a series of attacks with 20km to go with Van Dijk, Pieters and Johansson, with the Swede taking the sprint at the finish line.

Johansson will return to defend her title with a strong Orica-AIS team that includes Gracie Elvin, Kartin Garfoot, Melissa Hosking, Chloe McConville and Rachel Neylan. After sustaining a broken collarbone in a crash at the Novilon Eurocup on March 15, she recovered and resumed racing in early April with strong performances at Tour of Flanders, Flèche Wallonne and Dwars door de Westoek.

Liv-Plantur's Pieters will also be looking to better her third-place performance from last year. She will have support from Sabrina Stultiens, who was sixth place last year, Floortje Mackaij, who won the final stage of the GP Elsy Jacobs, Sara Mustonen-Lichan, Willeke Knol and Kyara Stijns.

The team's director Hans Timmermans says that his riders are prepared for the Dutch race, particularly Pieters, Stultiens and Mackaij, who all recently finished a Dutch national team training camp in Italy.

"We will aim for a good result with Pieters and Stultiens. Both women have shown strong performances in previous editions of the Boels Rental Hills Classic. Mackaij is also able to play an important role in the finale."

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