Last Saturday the Dutch spring season started with the first classic of the year, the “Ster van Zwolle.” This race would be my first measurement, on Dutch ground, to see how I’m doing on my #RoadToBEAT (i.e., my effort to earn a pro contract with BEAT). I had a lot of confidence that I would ride a good race because of my good winter, where my “Road” already started. My goal was to ride for the podium; however, it became a very “boring” race because of the changes to the route and less wind than expected.
Very early in the race, after 5 kilometers, two small groups escaped from the peloton (one of five riders and one of four). On the small roads that were not on the course last year, the teams represented in the breakaway set up an immediate “blockade.” This ensured that the leaders were soon more than five minutes ahead. I assumed the attacks would start again and there would be a large group that would cross over. But nothing was further from the truth, and the gap went up to nine (!) minutes. It was clear that we were fighting for only 10th place. I, however, remained in the front of the peloton, to avoid any risk and to not miss the next breakaway. After 120 kilometers, the race “started” again. There were a lot of attacks and I easily followed many of them. This meant that the peloton got smaller. Unfortunately, there were many groups that came back during the headwind part of the course. At that moment I decided, with a couple of other contenders, to take a little bit of a rest. But unfortunately, at that moment a small group managed to sneak away from the peloton. The peloton kept the gap as small as possible, and the lead to the first group also dropped to half a minute, but with 5 kilometers remaining we had no chance and my group was going to sprint for 20th place. I was able to position myself reasonably well and finish 9th, which ultimately yielded a 29th place. That was certainly not the result I was hoping for, but the important thing is that I didn’t crash during the race (compared to my last two editions, where I was crashed four times).
Luckily, I was still able to wear my red jersey on the podium, and I will stay the “Wattmeister” for the next Top Competition race.
Now I look forward to the classic of my province, the Ronde van Zuid Holland, on Saturday. This race is known to be hard race right from the beginning, so I will do everything to get in the breakaway so I can go for the win!