Ellen van Dijk is back in the yellow leader’s jersey at the Energiewacht Tour following Saturday’s double day of racing. Van Dijk, who won the Energiewacht Tour in 2013, sat second overall following the morning road race.
The former individual time trial world champion smashed the field in the afternoon time trial, covering the 13.6 kilometre ‘power course’ in 17:44, 22 seconds faster than Annemiek van Vleuten (ORICA-AIS) in second place. Van Dijk will start the stage five, the Dutch tour’s final stage, with a 37-second advantage over Van Vleuten and a 52-second advantage over Lisa Brennauer (CANYON//SRAM).
“I’m happy and relieved,” said Van Dijk. “I was really focused on the time trial. It’s the first time trial of the year with quite some big names at the start line, and it’s always a test to see where you’re at.”
“It’s not a normal time trial because it’s a stage race and still very early in the year, but it’s still a test moment,” Van Dijk noted. “I wanted to perform well. I’m happy with the result I could do in the end.”
While Van Dijk and her Boels-Dolmans teammates were all smiles post-time trial, the team had a stressful start to the day. The morning road race in Winsum was incredibly hectic. There was not a moment of calm over the 75-kilometre race.
“The goal was to keep the best possible position for me and Chantal before the time trial in the afternoon,” explained Van Dijk. “We needed to be in the front, stay alert and take as many bonus seconds as possible. Unfortunately Chantal was caught up in a very big crash early, and it was not a good situation.”
Blaak, who started the day in the yellow jersey, sustained wounds to her shoulder and leg and did significant damage to her bike.
“It was a serious crash,” said Van Dijk. “It wasn’t good.”
While Blaak changed bikes and gave chase, her teammates patrolled the peloton. Any breakaway with an overall contender was considered a serious threat requiring a reaction.
“We couldn’t allow anyone in the top ten to get away,” said Van Dijk. “CANYON was very active. Christine [Majerus] was in a nice move, but it didn’t go on because the sprinters didn’t have a stage yet. A lot was going on in the whole race.”
Incredibly Blaak made it back to the front group. The stage ended in a bunch sprint, and she managed second place behind Kirsten Wild (Hitec Products), picking up bonus seconds on the finish line. Blaak started the time trial as race leader by 12 seconds over Van Dijk.
“It was what we wanted,” said Van Dijk. “We couldn’t ask for any mor by the results. Of course, Chantal’s crash wasn’t ideal, and for sure, it influenced her performance in the time trial.”
“I was thinking about the time trial in the morning, but it was not about saving legs,” said Van Dijk. “You cannot save legs in a stage like this morning. It’s really dangerous, and you have to stay really focused. All the riders in the top ten in the general classification have the hope that they can do something in the morning stage because people are looking to the time trial. No, I couldn’t save. We all had to ride hard, very hard.”
Van Dijk’s winning time trial ride belied the effort she had put in during the morning stage. She soared over the flat, open roads in Leek en route to victory.
“Danny [Stam] was riding behind me, and he said it was going well, but it didn’t feel good,” said Van Djik. “A time trial never feels good. That’s normal. I’m used to that.”
“I didn’t know any time differences, but it didn’t matter,” she added. “I had to go full gas anyway.”
The Energiewacht Tour concludes on Sunday with a 117.9-kilometre road stage in Borkum.
“The goal is definitely to win,” said Van Dijk. “Tomorrow is still a hard stage, and anything can happen, but I have a pretty good advantage now. We’re going to give it everything to keep it.”