Nina Buijsman continued her hot streak of form in the Southern Hemisphere by sprinting to third place at the Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race. The fourth third place in 2023 for the Dutch rider, the 25-year-old leaves Australia with a haul of podiums including stage 2 of the Santos Tour Down Under and two criteriums.
“I‘m really happy with this form,” Buijsman said afterwards. “I knew I was already stronger than last winter but it is really nice to have the confirmation already, especially because I can still grow through the year.”
The rolling finishing circuit in Geelong encouraged aggressive racing throughout the seventh edition of the classic named after Australia’s first and only men’s Tour de France winner. Buijsman conquered the challenging gradients of the Challambra Crescent climb before winning the sprint for third, four seconds behind winner Loes Adegeest (FDJ – SUEZ).
Ever since being pipped to the line in a photo finish at least years Vuelta a Burgos, Buijsman has been working on her sprint with the help of work in the gym throughout the winter.
“My sprints this month give me a lot confidence for the rest of the races,” Buijsman added. “I knew that I can sprint after a hard race but not like this, so I’m really happy that this is going so good already.”
New Zealander Henrietta Christie also secured a second top ten of the year by sprinting to sixth place and second in the youth classification behind Josie Nelson (Team Coop – Hitec Products. The result means that the 21-year-old from Christchurch retains the blue Women’s WorldTour youth leader’s jersey.
“It gave me a lot of encouragement riding in the blue today,” said Christie. “The whole team were really motivated to defend the jersey and so it was really cool to race hard and aim for a podium which we achieved with Nina and that was awesome. Retaining the jersey was an added bonus.”
Team spirit has certainly been high in Australia and the riders once again combined as a collective to deliver Buijsman and Christie into the best possible spot. Stronger than the sum of its parts, there’s a reason the program has an 80s cartoon Voltron emblazoned on its team bus curtain.
“My teamies were great today,” says Buijsman. “Antri did a lot in the attacking, so I didnt have to worry about that. Lily said that she did not have her best day but I always have confidence on her wheel and Daria and Kaia were always closing gaps.”
The confidence in each other is one that is shared throughout the squad.
“The result is also for them,” she explained. “The confidence that they give me is really motivating.”
It’s a sentiment echoed by women’s team performance manager Kenny Latomme who has been encouraged by the results.
“I’ve seen a super strong team throughout this racing block in Australia,” says Latomme. “We proved that truly riding as a team works, and look what happened, so many podiums and a victory for Daria. This has really positive impact on the rest of the team and shows the strong mental strength of the girls because they know that they belong in WorldTour,” the Belgian added on the specter of relegation.
The squad next line up tomorrow at the Women Cycling Pro Costa De Almería before heading to the Middle East for the 2.WWT UAE Tour where Buijsman will go on hunting podiums. Christie will next race in New Zealand as part of her national championships before returning to Europe for the spring classics, beginning at the recently announced Omloop Het Nieuwsblad.
Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race results
1 ADEGEEST Loes – FDJ – SUEZ 3:52:47
2 SPRATT Amanda – Trek – Segafredo ”
3 BUIJSMAN Nina – Human Powered Health 0:04
4 NELSON Josie – Team Coop – Hitec Products ”
5 DE FRANCESCO Danielle – Zaaf Cycling Team ”
6 CHRISTIE Henrietta – Human Powered Health ”
7 ROSEMAN-GANNON Ruby – Team Jayco AlUla ”
8 WILLIAMS Georgia – EF Education-TIBCO-SVB ”
9 DOEBEL-HICKOK Krista – EF Education-TIBCO-SVB ”
10 BOILARD Simone – St Michel – Mavic – Auber93 WE ”
Women’s WorldTour Youth Ranking
1 CHRISTIE Henrietta – Human Powered Health 10 points
2 NELSON Josie – Team Coop – Hitec Products 6
3 WYLLIE Ella – Lifeplus Wahoo 4
4 MOHR Mari Hole – Team Coop – Hitec Products 2
5 SMITH Abi – EF Education-TIBCO-SVB 2