Boels-Dolmans Cycling Team won the Healthy Ageing Tour stage two team time trial in Baflo on Thursday. Chantal Blaak, Amalie Dideriksen, Christine Majerus, Kasia Pawlowska, Amy Pieters and Anna van der Breggen covered the 19.3-kilometre course with a winning time of 24:09, 31-seconds quicker than both Cervelo-Bigla (second) and Team Sunweb (third).
“This team time trial was technical, and we took care of each other during the effort,” said Blaak. “The speed was good. I don’t have anything bad to say although we can always improve. Everyone was strong and no one made any mistakes.”
When Boels-Dolmans won the team time trial last year at the Dutch stage race, then called Energiewacht Tour, it was a historic result – the first team time trial victory for the Dutch-registered squad. Boels-Dolmans went on to dominate the collective effort during the 2016 season culminating with the team time trial world title in Doha.
Amongst Boels-Dolmans Cycling Team’s Healthy Ageing Tour squad, only Blaak and Majerus were a part of the world’s win.
“The group felt pretty much the same as last year even with different riders,” said Blaak. “The new girls came in perfectly.
“Personally I was confident for this team time trial,” Blaak added. “I don’t mean that I was confident we would win, but I had confidence that we could make a good ride. During the recon the group felt pretty smooth and fast. Yesterday we also showed that we have a strong group here.”
The team time trial win follows a successful opening day at Healthy Ageing Tour that saw Pieters solo to victory off the back of a late race attack in the afternoon road stage. In the morning individual time trial, Van der Breggen posted the second fastest time. She started stage two atop the Boels Rental sprint classifications and in second overall, 27-seconds down on Ellen van Dijk (Team Sunweb).
Following a typical team time trial, the gaps Boels-Dolmans put into other teams in Thursday’s collective effort would see Van der Breggen pull on the yellow Healthy Ageing Tour race leader’s jersey. Instead, Van der Breggen narrows the gap to first but remains second overall.
According to Healthy Ageing Tour regulations, teams received bonus seconds rather than the time they earned: 35 seconds for first, 28 seconds for second, 26 seconds for third, 22 seconds for fourth, etc. Consequently, Van der Breggen only narrowed the gap to Van Dijk by seven seconds.
“I think it’s very strange to have a bonus second system for the team time trial,” said Blaak. “In the individual time trial, they don’t do that, so why here? I’m not happy with that. But it is what it is, and we’ll keep racing for wins like we always do.”
The Healthy Ageing Tour continues tomorrow with a road stage that begins in Musselkannal and finishes in Stadskanaal.
“People will be tired after the double day on Wednesday and the TTT today,” said Blaak. “Tomorrow is a long stage – 154 kilometres. It looks like it’s going to be windy. Like always, we’ll give it our best.”