Alexis Ryan had the biggest result of her career earlier today when she sprinted to second place at the spring classic opener Omloop Het Nieuwsblad in Meerbeke, Belgium. A surprise bunch of almost 35 riders came to the finish line with Christina Siggaard (BMS) narrowly outsprinting Ryan in the finale.
The 122km race was aggressive from the start where Elena Cecchini made the main break of the day, staying ahead of the chasing group until the bottom of the Muur van Geraardsbergen with just 15km to go.
“We had a team plan to protect Tiff (Cromwell) and myself. We wanted to be present in moves but if it did come down to a sprint then I was the rider we would work for,” admitted Ryan after the race.
Ryan, who started the 2018 season with the goal of “winning a bike race”, said her pre-season had gone to plan. “The last two seasons have been a roller coaster for me and it’s been a challenge to keep patient with myself. I turned my frustration into constructive energy this off season – working really hard on my weaknesses.”
Ryan reaped the rewards of that work when she said she felt comfortable throughout the race. “My race was fantastic! I felt strong over all the cobble sections and climbs, almost as if I was floating over them. I was able to go with the strongest riders over the Muur and then the last climb, the Bosberg.”
Ryan continued “I did my best to conserve energy in the first half of the race and be patient in the second half. I timed my sprint well, it was just Siggaard was stronger than me today in the sprint.”
“Today is confirmation that hard work pays off. I still have a lot of hard work ahead of me!” exclaimed the young American rider. Ryan’s next race will be Acht van Westerwald in just under two weeks time.
While celebrations of Ryan’s success were had in Belgium, the team at Setmana Ciclista Valenciana was disappointed to lose the leader’s jersey from Hannah Barnes’ shoulders with just one stage remaining in the four-day tour. The final stage of Setmana Ciclista tomorrow in Benidorm can be followed on Twitter with #SCV2018.