Saturday 28th August
Tomorrow sees the 7th edition of the Omloop door Middag-Humsterland, the final race in this years major Dutch domestic series for women, the KNWU topcompetitie. The series as a whole shows a lot of variety (see Pigeons’ summary), but this race seems determined to pander to every stereotype you may have ever had about racing in the Netherlands. OK, the roads may not be lined with tall, blonde pig-tailed women in clogs waving tulips (and I bet some of the kids here thought that the national dress was an orange mini-skirt), and there probably won’t be mice tap-dancing on the steps of the windmills they pass, but windmills there are aplenty, along with canals, towpaths, flat, flat, flat roads and the strong possibility of the race being affected by winds blowing in from the North Sea. The race kicks off at 12:30 CET and covers a total of 133km. The organisers have published a map, showing a couple of loops which I suspect are repeated to make up the distance, but I find anything telling how exactly they are repeated. There’s no profile, but even though the official site talks about (in the awkward Google translation) "dwelling mounds", chances are that the circuit is as near to flat as makes no difference, and that winds will determine how the race plays out.
Here’s a bit of video from last year’s race won by Lotto’s Rochelle Gilmore after some impressive pacemaking by her team-mates.
If that doesn’t say flat race, then the names of some of the other winners give it away a bit, including Vera Koedooder, Kirsten Wild and Adrie Visser. In the past this race has attracted a large number of entries, and this year is no different, ranging from the big international teams such as Cervelo (will someone dare to ask them what’s going on next year), Nederland Bloeit, Lotto, Red Sun, Leontien and Hitec through teams that don’t tend to travel outside the Netherlands such as Dolmans Landscaping and Swabo, right down to the composite teams hoping to hang on to the end. The big favourites on the startlist have to be past winners Kirsten Wild and Rochelle Gilmore, but for a few outside names to keep an eye on, consider Petra Dijkman of Red Sun, Sara Mustonen of Hitec UCK who always seems to be near the front in these sorts of races, and Anne Samplonius on the Canadian National squad who we might hope to see repeating the aggressive racing she showed on the Route de France.
The organisers have set up a webpage for live updates from the race so we whould get some timely news, and I am hoping that the local TV station at the very least does the same as last year and sends out a reporter to get some interviews and a couple of minutes of race footage. Beyond that we will have to wait and see.