Peloton Watch
  Jessica Roberts Blog: Junior Omloop van Borsele  
  April 27th By Jessica Roberts  
  Jessice Roberts (centre) all smiles on the podium. © Wielercomite Sheerenhoek  
  British Cycling Junior Academy rider Jessica Roberts took one of the biggest wins of her young career with the overall title at the junior Omloop van Borsele. Becoming the fifth British rider in seven years to claim overall success following in the footsteps of Laura Trott, Hannah Barnes, Elinor Barker and Grace Garner.

After taking a dominant win in the opening time trial Roberts, finished seventh on stage two before leading out teammate Eleanor Dickinson to victory and claiming second herself on the final stage to claim the overall title.

It continues a strong 2016 for 17-year-old Roberts, who clamed the HOY Future Stars title on the track, before finished sixth at the Junior Energiewacht Tour earlier in April.

I am writing this blog after a successful weekend away racing my first Omloop van Borsele in Holland, with British Cycling. The racing kicked off with a 13.6km individual TT on Friday evening. We rode the course the day before, practising the corners, making sure we knew how fast we could enter them and keep our speed through the corner. I liked the course and was looking forward to racing the next day.

The first rider set off at 5:15PM, my start time was 5:58PM, which was about halfway through the 105 riders. After my warm up, I was feeling positive going to the start as my legs were feeling pretty good. I got on the start ramp, the countdown began and then I was off. I went out pretty hard from the start and then settled in to a rhythm. There were sections of the course with quite a strong headwind, I thought in these parts you could gain time so I went a little harder. I passed three kilometres to go, and I was going as hard as I could and gave it everything to the line. I crossed the line and heard the commentator say I had beat the leader at that moment by 40 seconds. I knew there were still a lot of riders to go, including some really good time trialists, so it was an anxious wait to see where my time would place. When the last rider had crossed the line it was confirmed that I had won by 23 seconds, I was so happy. I was also leading the best young rider and points classification.

Stage two was a 72km road race, three laps around a 23km circuit. On the start line, it started to rain really heavily, I thought we were in for a wet race but thankfully it turned out to be quite sunny. A bonus with being in the leaders jersey was being able to start at the front, which really helps as the start is always full on and if it's windy then the race can split straight away, which is what happened. The front group was only about 25 riders. We had about 30 seconds on the second group, it was very windy so it was hard for people to attack or bridge from the second to the first group. We had five of our riders in the front group, which was really good! The plan for today was to not let any of the riders high up on GC get away and the team did a great job of doing that. On the last lap, two riders slipped away. I knew they weren't a threat to the GC, but my teammate Henrietta Colborne did a great job of not letting the gap get too big. They stayed away until the finish with a gap of about six seconds. I finished seventh on the stage and was still leading going in to the last stage with a 22 second lead on second place.

At 72 kilometres the final stage was the same distance as yesterday. The plan for today was the same as yesterday really, make sure we had one of our riders in every move and not let any dangerous moves get away. The wind wasn't as bad as yesterday at the start of the race, so the bunch didn't split as much. But, there were quite a few crashes on today's stage, with a lot of riders going down, so the front group got quite small. You had to keep focused and stay at the front because at the back was a pretty dangerous place to be. There were three intermediate sprints during the race where you could gain 3, 2 and 1 bonus seconds. I managed to get second in the last one of these sprints, this brought my overall lead up to 24 seconds. The last 30km of the race was three laps of a 10km loop. It was quite twisty so it was important to be up the front all the time. It was also windy so if you weren't in the echelon, you'd be in the gutter going as hard as you could trying to stay on. I still had three teammates in the group with me and they made sure no one got away. We came passed the finish line with one lap to go. The wind had got really bad on the last lap and there were riders trying to get away so it was very full on until the finish line. With about five kilometres to go the rain started to come down hard, the bunch was strung out, everyone battling against the wind and rain. I said to my teammate Ellie Dickinson I would lead her out, so with two kilometres to go I got on the front and went as hard as I could to set her up for the finish. I swung off, looked behind and I had a bit of a gap from the bunch so I carried on to the finish line and managed to get second with Ellie taking the win. Henrietta also finished a great sixth on the stage.

Three jerseys for Roberts. © Wielercomite Sheerenhoek

I crossed the line with a big smile on my face. I was super happy to win the overall, best young rider and points classification. We had also won best team classification and it was really nice for us all to get on the podium together. We travelled back to the UK a happy team.
 © 2016