Omloop het Nieuwsblad 2021

We had to wait and see if we could start racing again, after all, Valencia had already been cancelled. But we could ‘just’ start the season in the Omloop het Nieuwsblad, without fans, but we could race again!

 

After a few good training camps, I was ready for it. Always very exciting, such a first race of the season, but in my last training camp I already drove some power-records and the races we drove with the team in Spain went almost flawlessly. I felt stronger than ever before. I think this will be my first year that I have everything in order so well. I do my core training at least once a week and actually start every morning with 10 minutes of yoga. I also do my strength training regularly and I still run small laps. I just do that running because it makes me feel good. I also sleep more regularly and eat healthy.

 

After the training camp, the days flew by. Went to Ridderkerk twice for a Covid test and with our team presentation and the recon of Omloop de Nieuwsblad in the middle of the week, we were pretty busy.

At one point in the recon, Jolien (D’Hoore) told me: ‘Demi, this is a good time to get away!’. ‘Oh, yes?’ is what I said, and ‘come then’. And there I stood on the pedals and felt Jolien come along in my wheel. She told me that it went up first, then flattened out and then after a left turn, it started up again. A lovely climb if you have good legs! They still keep up with you for the first part, but if you also manage to keep up with that 2nd hop, you’ll lose everyone. That’s what I tried in the recon, and it also became the plan for the race.

 

On Friday we gathered at the hotel again. Here was something new for us again, because we had to eat in our rooms. So, before the game I only met my teammates in the lobby of the van der Valk hotel. I was in the room with Chantal, so we had dinner for two together.

 

The next morning, we could sleep in, because the start was at 13:45.

After we got up relaxed, we went to get our breakfast, a buffet, but different, because you are not allowed to touch anything yourself. We pointed to what we wanted on our plate and a waiter scooped it up and then we returned to our rooms with an overflowing tray.

At 11:00 we had a meeting, and we were finally all together. The atmosphere was great and the nerves started to come up a bit. I had absolutely no idea that we were going to ride a race that afternoon, but during the meeting I became more and more exited!

We had the plan to make the race hard and not let it fall still between the climbs and cobblestone strips. And that’s what we did that afternoon!

The first 60km crept by, and half hypothermic we finally started the first sections. We were right as a rock in the front and did not let ourselves down. Then we approached the point Jolien had pointed out to me in the reconnaissance. Anna was in the lead after she had already jumped away for a while. I arrived with a little extra speed from reverse and didn’t hesitate for a second! As I did in reconnaissance, I stood on the pedals and flew off! A few tried to follow, but I knew the 2nd hop was still to come.

On the 2nd hop I stood up again and as expected the competition slackened there and I was gone.

Full of confidence and motivation I picked up a good pace and knowing that I probably wouldn’t make it to the finish (it was still very far) I enjoyed it. Because I also knew that they could now play the game nicely behind me. With such a strong block behind you, you feel so strong!

There was some wind, not much, but the wind that was there was against me. That made it difficult for me.

 

What actually went through my head all the time during this solo was: ‘I learn so much from this, I learn from this how to ride solo’. Because you have to learn that by doing.

Once I arrived at the Muur van Geraardsbergen I felt them coming. After the Wall I joined the small peloton and with 4 more of us in that group we were able to play the game again. And that’s what we did again. Anna launched her attack on the last cobblestone climb and we never saw her again. Anna won with a well-placed attack, solo and Amy sprinted very strong to a 3rd place. Our day and first game of the season was a great success and could not go wrong. ‘Bring it on that season’ was what I thought!

 

28.02.2021

Demi Vollering

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