Saturday, Team TIBCO proved they will be a serious contender in 2013, delivering two riders into the top 7 in the first Spring Classic of the season. American Team TIBCO rider Shelley Olds took 5th on the day, while rising Dutch star Chantal Blaak finished 7th in the fierce cobbled classic Omloop Het Nieuwsblad.
Despite freezing Belgian weather and unforgiving cobbles and bergs, the Team worked tirelessly to put their riders into top position in the first of the major Spring Classics. Of 248 starting riders, only 64 would finish the 125-kilometer battle of attrition. The UCI 1.2 category race featured many of the same short, steep climbs and cobbled pave used in the Tour of Flanders.
“These women are all champions in my mind,” said Team TIBCO directeur sportif Manel Lacambra. “It’s not easy to race in the freezing Belgian weather, and our Team did everything it could to put up a top result in the first European race of the season.”
The bunch stayed together in the first 25 kilometers as the riders approached the first of the cobbled climbs. About 40 kilometers in, a crash in the middle of the pack took down some riders, but most riders came away unscathed.
The race began to animate as the riders headed up to the Cote de Trieu. By kilometer 61, the field began to shatter. With riders starting to crack, Team TIBCO hard-woman Claudia Hausler (GER) went on the attack and found herself solo off the front. The field regrouped and at kilometer 97, Blaak made the most of her technical prowess by attacking on the infamous Paddestraat pave section. U.S. U23 National Champion Samantha Schneider and New Zealand teammate Rushlee Buchanan rounded out the 5-woman squad.