As if to prove herself the world’s best sprinter, Belgian champion Jolien D’hoore won the Madrid Challenge on Sunday.
Not only was it the Wiggle-High5 rider’s second successive victory at the race, it was her seventh Women’s WorldTour win of 2017.
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Having opened her sprint early, the 27-year-old edged clear of American rider Coryn Rivera (Sunweb) in the final metres, with Frenchwoman Roxane Fournier (FDJ Nouvelle Aquitaine Futuroscope) in third.
The 87km race is essentially a criterium held ahead of the final stage of La Vuelta. Tackling laps the 5.8km circuit around the centre of the Spanish capital, the race was significantly enlivened by intermediate sprint points on 12 of the 15 laps.
This extra level of competition ensured each circuit was fiercely fought, with Norwegian rider Emilie Moberg (Hitec Products) emerging to win the points classification ahead of Rachele Barbieri (Cylance).
That competition, however, did serve to ensure no significant breakaway ever gained traction, Barbieri’s team-mate Malgorzata Jasinska the only rider allowed space to remain away for more than one lap.
Despite not all the biggest teams being present in Madrid the race was always bound to end in a sprint. The favourite’s teams of Sunweb, Wiggle-High5 and Alé-Cipollini maintained control throughout and, as the race entered its final three kilometres, it was the Dutch team who tore to the front en-masse, lining out the group behind.
However, the Wiggle-High5 outfit had ridden a canny race, only at the front when they needed to be, challenged Sunweb in the final kilometre, placing D’hoore in the perfect place to launch a long sprint.
At last year’s race D’hoore, who won Olympic Omnium bronze last year, beat team mate Chloe Hosking to the line. Hosking, however, is now racing for Alé-Cipollini and was expected to challenge for the win, especially after her controversial exclusion from the Australian world championship team.
Hosking, however, only managed seventh place.
Best placed British rider was former national criterium champion, Eileen Roe (Team WNT) finished 12th.
The final event of the Women’s WorldTour the Madrid Challenge is seen as a showcase for the series, but with the winners of all the classifications absent it failed to live up to expectations.
Boels-Dolmans continued their dominance of the series, repeating last year’s success in the teams classification, with Olympic road champion Anna van der Breggen winning the individual classification.
Promising Danish rider Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig won the WorldTour youth classification, but the Cervélo-Bigla was also absent.
Madrid Challenge by La Vuelta (87km)
1. Jolien D’hoore (Bel) Wiggle-High5, in 2-02-31
2. Coryn Rivera (USA) Sunweb
3. Roxane Fournier (Fra) FDJNouvelle Aquitaine Futuroscope
4. Eugenia Bujak (Pol) BTC City Ljubljana
5. Sheyla Gutierrez (Esp) Cylance
6. Giorgia Bronzini (Ita) Wiggle-High5
7. Chloe Hosking (Aus) Alé-Cipollini
8. Susanne Andersen (Nor) Hitec Products
9. Leah Kirchmann (Can) Sunweb
10. Alba Teruel Ribes (Esp) Lointek, all at same time