Chloe Hosking claims first podium with Trek-Segafredo as teammate Audrey Cordon-Ragot turns herself inside-out in support in Le Samyn
Chloe Hosking sprinted onto her first podium with Trek-Segafredo, finishing in third place in La Samyn Tuesday. Lotte Kopecky (Liv Racing) timed her move perfectly to take the win and Emma Norsgaard (Movistar), the first to jump in the slightly uphill finish, held on for second.
The Belgian mid-week classic unfolded under atypical blue skies for a Belgian spring. Still, the characteristic cobbled sectors, the primary difficulty for the 92.5-kilometer race, were more than enough to create a reduced bunch by the finish.
The peloton split before the half-way mark on a cobbled sector. Audrey Cordon-Ragot and Choe Hosking represented Trek-Segafredo in the front, joining most big-names on the right side of the split. There may have been teams with more numbers in the leading group, but Cordon-Ragot pulled up her sleeves and did the work of two.
It was quite special to be reminded what it’s like to race with Audrey; she’s such a strong teammate. She did a lot for just one person.
“Going into the race, we knew that a crucial point was going to be the righthand corner onto the second cobble section, and we struggled to get there together in the front. But all-day Audrey was a prenominal teammate – in the first cobbled sector, we were a bit far back, and she dragged both of us to the front,” explained Hosking.
“Then we missed a break of five, a pretty crucial moment, so we both had a go at bridging to keep the gap manageable,” she continued. “Then Audrey just got on the front and just sat there and did turns with a Jumbo rider and got the gap close. When the counters started, we both were following. I think with just the two of us making the front group, we did an outstanding job. It was quite special to be reminded what it’s like to race with Audrey; she’s such a strong teammate. She did a lot for just one person.”
In the final 20 kilometers, Cordon-Ragot still had more. At first, she played antagonist, but it was apparent that the group would not let anyone go. At least not easily. With an established finisher in Hosking and defense looking the better play, Cordon-Ragot promptly turned herself inside-out in the final kilometers to neutralize attacks.
The last problematic cobbled sector ended three kilometers from the line; it added hurt to many legs and stretched the elastic to a breaking point. The lead group cleared the final hurdle mostly intact, turned right, and for the last few kilometers settled for a sprint ending.
Of course, obviously, the guys showed in Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne that you can win out of that situation with just two, so we’ll try in the next races to move up to the top step.
“In the final, look, I knew that Audrey had done so much work already, and to be honest, I had done a fair bit of work as well,” Hosking said. “So I knew I had to be smart. I had (director) Ina (Teutenberg) in my ear saying, ‘it’s a really hard sprint, you gotta go late, don’t panic’.
“That was really nice, and something, coming onto this team, that I was really looking forward to: Having Ina helping me through these sprints. That was super valuable.”
“I tracked Kopecky’s wheel for a while, and then maybe with a k to a k and a half to go, I moved to Norsgaard’s wheel. But, yeah, my legs… I didn’t have that punch in the finish that I needed, so I finished up third.
“But I think we made quite good out of a bad situation. Of course, obviously, the guys showed in Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne that you can win out of that situation with just two, so we’ll try in the next races to move up to the top step. At least it shows things are tracking in the right direction – I am confident that we will get there.”