On Saturday, Orica-AIS rider, Tiffany Cromwell sped to her maiden classics victory at the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad in Ghent, Belgium.
The conditions for the 125 kilometre race were terrible with competitors wrapped up as they battled the freezing weather and each other.
The race began fairly quietly until the peloton was split going up the Cote de Trieu. It then split and reformed another three times until a group of 60 merged heading into the Edelareburg. It was just before the five cobbled sections that a lead group of 16 emerged. Cromwell had three other teammates in the group with her. Loes Gunnewijk of the Netherlands, who won the race last year, Swedish teammate Emma Johansson, who won in 2010 and 2011, and fellow Australian, Gracie Elvin.
Speaking on cyclingnews.com, Cromwell said, “The race unfolded as we had expected”. “Usually not much happens until around the 50 kilometre mark. Until then, we are just meant to keep out of trouble and ensure we had numbers when the sectors start.
“We had representation each time the race split, but nothing was really happening despite all the action. There was a strong headwind, and most teams weren’t willing to help force the split.
“We had been using our numbers to our advantage and launching attacks that were going nowhere.”
Cromwell then used her position to escape with USA rider Megan Guarnier of Rabo Women Cycling Team. Eventually Guarnier was forced to the front in the last kilometre and with 300 metres to go, Cromwell rolled around the American to take the victory in 3:34:00.
Emma Johansson came in third after being led out by Gracie Elvin who finished thirteenth. Loes Gunnewijk finished in tenth place.
The victory continues her solid beginning to the 2013 season that began in Australia in January. Cromwell came in first place at the Mitchelton Bay Cycling Classic, Portarlington Criterium, and also at the Mitchelton Bay Cycling Classic, Sprint Ace Competition. She finished third overall at the Mitchelton Bay Cycling Classic.
Cromwell continues to go from strength to strength and her first classics victory is hopefully a sign of what is to come from the young South Australian.