Only one race this week because reasons, the magnificently-named Healthy Ageing Tour (or HAT) of the exposed Dutch flatlands. Paris-Roubaix it ain’t, nor the Basque mountains either, but highly entertaining tactical stage racing with splits and attacks all over the place.
Great daily live coverage, too (with decent—insofar as TotW understood the Dutch—commentary from José Been and ex-pro Adrie Visser) and highlights that actually manage to sum up the stages pretty well (hello WWT?). Plus a genuinely useful race twitter feed with updates, interviews, clips and photos.
- Lisa Klein: Quietly impressive so far this season, second place in the tricky opening sprint was enough for Trek to mark out Klein as Ellen van Dijk’s main GC competition. Couldn’t quite beat Van Dijk in the short time trial stage, but did enough to take the overall lead and prove her rivals had been right to fear her. This was Klein’s first pro win, to TotW’s surprise. She can add to it rider of the week.
- Lisa Brennauer : A stage win from a breakaway, a major role in two sprint victories for Kirsten Wild, sprints jersey winner and effective patronne of the HAT peloton (though Van Dijk and Christine Majerus both waved their hands more).
- Kirsten Wild : Fastest sprinter around, as long as the road is flat and straight, that is. Which it was here, twice, gaining Wild the points jersey along with the stage wins.
- Ellen van Dijk : Won the time trial but had too much to do to make up time on Klein in the last two stages. All the same, she made it fun watching her try.
- Lotta Lepistö: Won the awkward first stage sprint from a select group, held the leader’s jersey until Klein wrested it from her in the time trial, then did her best to help Trek teammate Van Dijk.
- Mieke Kröger: Finally got a solo win after her near miss in De Panne last year. Ok, so some in the peloton were happy to let her go, but her two attacks—the first detaching Nicole Steigenga, the second shaking off Romy Kasper—were pure power.
Racing for the GB national team, Scottish rider Rhona Callander made it into the front group every day, finishing second in the U23 competition behind Lorena Wiebes, one of three GB riders in the top five.
Megan Jastab won the junior version, adding to her Trofeo da Moreno win earlier in the season.
Team of the Week
Alice Barnes did a splendid job for a depleted Canyon-SRAM, getting herself and Klein into the front group every day and helping to prevent Van Dijk making up time. But the prize goes (again) to WNT-Rotor, who bossed the peloton, won three stages and two jerseys, and whose Brennauer-Wild combination is a thing of beauty.
Animated a fun end to stage 3 by attacking in relay, and Anna’s long range effort on the final stage gave Van Dijk a glimmer of GC hope once the two took off together. Pieters, D’hoore and Majerus all finished top 10 on GC, giving Boels the HAT team prize. But mainly Ardennes training, right?
Three stage wins for Dutch riders and five riders in the top 10 overall. Their Italian rivals were a bit thin on the ground this week, Barbara Guarischi being most prominent. Instead, German riders provided the main opposition, with stage wins for Kröger and Brennauer, and Klein taking the GC.
Best Netherlands v Germany moment came in the final stage when Dutch duo Van der Breggen and Van Dijk were chased down by a multi-team German alliance on the front of the peloton with Brennauer, Klein and Romy Kasper.
Eye Roll of the Week
No wrong turn can possibly beat Buchmann’s in the Basque country but at least the HAT got its misdirection out of the way in the stage 2 neutral zone.
Wishful Thinking of the Week
Specialized’s oh-so pointed ad for its Roubaix bike featuring Boels-Dolmans riders on the hallowed cobbles prompted renewed speculation about a possible women’s edition of Paris-Roubaix. So far ASO seem unperturbed. TotW isn’t holding its breath either.
Dutch Word of the Week
Strijdlust. Which Anna van der Breggen had in the final stage. And which seems to have something to do with bathrooms.
Wannabe was on tenterhooks all week for a Lisa Klein win, but it’s tshawytcha with Klein, Van Dijk, Pieters and Wiebes who takes the overall HAT win. Points for Lotta Lepistö and Alice Barnes move pedroy’s CMG team up into second. bsmashers—who picked up points from Barnes and Pieters—remains in the lead.
Just in case you thought it was a one rider team, Vlady scored here with Alice Barnes and Mieke Kröger and is still way out in front. Yeehoo, though, has made a strong play for second place with Klein and Van Dijk.
Returns this weekend with the Amstel Gold Race. Look out for the fanpost.