Brown coal in the corner

We’ve just passed the second climb in the local lap. About 30 riders; that’s what is left of the buch. At top speed we ride towards the village of Dahlem. With only 30 kilometers to go, girls attack continuously. One after the other. I’m very active too, because this is the most thrilling game there is. For a moment, things seem to quiet down, just in front of me. My speed is still high, so why not, and I go – assuming some girls will catch my wheel.

After a couple of seconds I glance back. Gap. I look once more. A pretty big gap, even. I’m all alone. What to do? Race on, I guess. The road drags slightly uphill, I try not to slow down. I look back again. The gap is bigger. Then I see someone coming. Alone. Blue, white and black. It looks like someone of Sengers. It is Anna van der Breggen. Moments later a Rabobank-rider crosses. Lucinda Brand joins us. Anna and I work hard. Lucinda just sits in the wheel. Her teammate, Marianne Vos, is in the group behind, so she’s not allowed to work.

the gang

We race towards the first climb. It’s gambling, but I feel Anna wants to try to do the same as I do: stay away. Try to make it to the finish. Of course I’ve been calculating already: Anna was 10th in the prologue, I was 11th and Lucinda 15th. If we make it, we’ll be 1, 2 and 3 in the general classification. If we’ll be caught back, my teammates Carlee and Ashleigh didn’t spend any unnecesary energy and will hopefully be able to finish it off.

Anna rides uphill in a blistering pace. I almost drop, Lucinda passes me, I can just hold her wheel. People are yelling, I hear my name, cheers from the crowd in the climb. At the top I swallow the pain and…

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Photo: Anton Vos

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