Johnny Hoogerland is the celebrated champion of the Netherlands. The 30 year old rider from Vacansoleil-DCM came in Kerkrade after 228 kilometers solo first across the finish line. He crowned not just himself, but also the work of his team mates.
The team from manager Daan Luijkx and the sports directors Michel Cornelisse and Jean-Paul van Poppel had the title fight from start till finish in its grip. ”We were the best team in the race,” concluded Cornelisse. ”Wehave always had the initiative and we have never been in panic.”
Westra signed, after just a few seconds, for the first breakaway of the day. Later on he was joined by threeother riders, but it was the national time trial champion who survived the longest. When he was caught up, at the start of the final, it was the attack of team mate Lammertink which kept the pressure on the other main teams in the Dutch championship. In the decisive kilometers Johnny Hoogerland crowned the work in an impressive way.
“When I rode besides our team bus in the last lap, I got tears in my eyes. After all the misery of the past two years, this is just fantastic”, said Sealand’s Lion after winning the title, referring to the serious accidents he was involved in this spring and in the Tour de France two years ago.
“It’s been a long road. But maybe I come back better than ever before. Nothing is more beautiful than go to the Tour in our national colors. It’s a dream come true. I did not win much in recent years, but I always try to ride attractive. Also as a team we have had a lot of setbacks this year, but finally everything went well now.”