6/23/2013 - NEWS!
Hoogerland claims Dutch road race championship
Dumoulin, Langeveld round out the podium
Johnny Hoogerland is the new Dutch road race champion. The Vacansoleil-DCM rider soloed to the finish in the town of Kerkrade. Tom Dumoulin of Argos-Shimano took the silver medal, bronze was for Orica-GreenEdge's Sebastian Langeveld.
The 228.8km course in the south of the Netherlands consisted of 22 laps with several difficult climbs, resulting in a very demanding championship where only 24 riders reached the finish. At the front of the pack was Hoogerland, who was famous for his hail-mary attacks before becoming even more known for his frightening crash into barb wire at the 2011 Tour de France.
Hoogerland also crashed heavily into a car on February 3 of this year, resulting in serious injuries including five broken ribs and a bruised liver, but showed he is fully fit again.
"When you ride towards the finish of the national championships on your own and you know you will be the Dutch champion, it's amazing. I really don't want to take this jersey off, not even for a jersey in the Tour de France. The red white and blue is the most special jersey of all," Hoogerland concluded.
The victory was equally significant for the Vacansoleil team, which has struggled to gain a new sponsor after the announced exit of its two current title sponsors at the end of the season.
"After all the setbacks we had this year as a team, this feels really great," Hoogerland explained at the post-race press conference. "The public sometimes calls me a not so smart rider, but some days these attacks do result in something great," he smiled.
Tom Dumoulin, only 22 years old, was the local rider. His attempt to ride up to Hoogerland in the final lap stalled at 23 seconds. The Argos-Shimano rider had to settle for a silver medal. "I didn't believe in the title and not even in the podium. I was stuck in the bunch with my good legs but when I could get away, I felt good, because riding alone is what I do best as a time triallist," he said.
Langeveld was motivated, but ran out of steam when Hoogerland was hitting his stride. "I really worked towards this race. At a national championship only one result counts." Langeveld said, adding that he had to let Hoogerland go on the final climb of Duivels Bosch. "The light just went out. That was a bit of a surprise to me," Langeveld told Cyclingnews. "I believed in my chances but it was just half a lap too much. The course is very selective meaning the strongest man won today."
Lieuwe Westra was the first attacker of the day. The 30-year old Vacansoleil-DCM rider still had his fast legs from the time trial title he won earlier this week. "Lieuwe's attack was not planned," Vacansoleil-DCM sports director Michel Cornelisse said. "He was one of our six protected riders."
Westra attacked in the opening lap of the championships, just after the race was neutralized because of a crash involving Robert Gesink. The Blanco captain continued but abandoned the race with a bruised rib.
Westra never got a big gap because Blanco didn't want to let a dangerous rider like him go. He had to fight for every second in the first laps of the race. When Jasper Hamelink (CT Jo Piels), Dion Beukeboom (CT de Rijke-Shanks) and Dennis Smit (CT Metec) joined Westra, the gap widened to two and a half minutes, but never exceeded that margin.
"At first we weren't happy with Lieuwe's attack," sports director Cornelisse said, "but then we just let him ride to weaken Blanco. They had 18 riders at the start, we had 14 so we had to wear them out."
That strategy worked because Blanco riders like Jos van Emden, Marc Goos, Stef Clement, Theo Bos and Rick Flens had to work very hard to bring Westra back, especially after he had dropped the other three riders in the breakaway one by one.
The final of the championship started when Westra was caught at five laps from the finish. Several attacks were launched. Bram Tankink opened for Blanco. Hoogerland and Langeveld bridged towards him. "This is a course for Johnny," Cornelisse explained. "The only thing we wanted to prevent was that Johnny attacked too early like he did last year."
Several riders tried to ride towards the front of the race like Saxo-Tinkoff's Karsten Kroon and Michel Kreder of Garmin-Sharp. They found a very strong Boy van Poppel in their group but being a teammate of Hoogerland, he didn't do any work. The gap of Tankink, Hoogerland and Langeveld grew.
Hoogerland attacked Langeveld on the Duivels Bosch climb. Tankink had already been dropped by then.
From the background Dumoulin launched an attack, overtaking Tankink and then Langeveld but it was too little too late. Hoogerland was already out of reach to take his first national title.
Read more on: Cyclingnews.com
Hooderland comes across the line