Megan Guarnier of Team TIBCO/To the Top impressed race officials enough with her attacking style that she was awarded the blue jersey of the Most Aggressive Rider at the end of the first stage of the Energiewacht Tour in northern Holland today.
“On the first big lap, Megan attacked solo,” said Team Directeur Sportif Angela van Smoorenburg. “When she was reeled back in, she attacked solo a bit later to catch another break. The race judges were very impressed with her riding and awarded her the jersey.”
The stage began in the small village of Selligem, covering four laps of a circuit that crossed the border into Germany for a few miles and then returned into Dutch territory.
It turned out to be another dangerous day of cycling. “It was a crazy day,” van Smoorenburg said. “The roads were small, it was windy and it was a very nervous peloton. Crashes happen in these kinds of races. You have to be prepared.”
Today they happened with a fair degree of frequency. Emma Mackie reported seeing five crashes in just the first 30 km. She was caught up in the fifth of those at 30 km, got up and kept going until a second crash at about the 50 km took her down again. Still banged up from her crash during the Tour of Flanders last Sunday, she was in too much pain to continue.
The 108 km race was generally aggressive and fast, with an average speed of 40.8 kph for the stage. The race was marked by a break of 24 that eventually opened up a one-minute lead. A concerted chase by the peloton, which included Guarnier and Joelle Numainville, cooperated enough to close the gap on the front group.
The race mostly came back together for the final kilometers, setting up a bunch sprint for the finish. Team TIBCO’s Carmen Small, fresh off a strong performance at the Redlands Classic, took 11th in the bunch kick.
“It was a very hard day all around,” van Smoorenburg added. “We had a bit of bad luck with crashes again today. Jo (Kiesanowski) and Megan got caught up in a crash with a couple kilometers left. They both we OK and both finished but couldn’t get there for the sprint. Joelle also got caught up behind a crash earlier. Positioning is so critical with these races. But hopefully we’ll have a bit better luck tomorrow.”