Mieke Kröger continued her impressive time-trialling form during stage 3b of the Baloise Ladies Tour, finishing in second behind world champion Ellen Van Dijk (Trek – Segafredo) in the 15.6km race of truth around Knokke-Heist.
“I’m very pleased with my position,” the German Olympic team pursuit champion said afterwards. “I felt like finally there’s some shape coming back, I’m feeling like the motor is running and that’s a good thing and I took that positive spirit into the TT.”
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Commenting on her tactics, Kröger explained that sometimes being over-prepared can affect a rider and that sometimes you just have to race on instinct.
“I just went old school by feeling,” she said. “I think that was a good decision and I was able to race hard.”
Team mechanic Raf Wittenberg was on hand in the car offering unique encouragement to the 28-year-old including some David Bowie deep cuts, as Kröger jovially recounts.
“He said, ‘Major Raf to Mieke Kröger, let the countdown start, I want to see a rocket ship blasting off that start ramp‘,” and later, “’Where’s that rocket ship? I’m seeing a paper plane here’.”
Wittenberg revealed afterwards that his radio chatter was inspired by the riders doing karaoke along with ‘Space Oddity’ by Bowie in the car to the start.
All these physical and mental factors have to combine in a race against the clock though. “I am certainly happy with my mindset,” Kröger continued, a similar sentiment she shared having also finished second a few weeks earlier in the Lotto Belgium Tour prologue.
The women’s peloton has been devoid of time-trialling kilometers this season compared to the men’s side of the sport, meaning that specialists like Kröger and American Lily Williams, haven’t had many chances to showcase their talents.
“It would be nice to have more TTs and real ones, not just hill climb TTs or super crazy technical stuff,” Kröger commented. “I would appreciate that to practice this discipline, it’s important to know what to do and what to think because practice makes you perfect.”
Elsewhere, the week in ‘the Lowlands’ has been a successful one for Evy Kuijpers who having ridden to fifth place in a breakaway on stage 2, made sure of a top-ten place in the overall standings.
Lotto Belgium Tour prologue results
1 VAN DIJK Ellen – Trek – Segafredo 0:19:34
2 KRÖGER Mieke – Human Powered Health 0:44
3 CORDON-RAGOT Audrey – Trek – Segafredo 0:46
4 WIEBES Lorena – Team DSM 0:51
5 HOWE Georgie – Keukens Redant Cycling Team 0:58
Lotto Belgium Tour GC after stage 3b
1 VAN DIJK Ellen – Trek – Segafredo 8:30:01
2 WIEBES Lorena – Team DSM 0:31
3 CORDON-RAGOT Audrey – Trek – Segafredo 1:02
4 HOWE Georgie – Keukens Redant Cycling Team 1:24
5 GEORGI Pfeiffer – Team DSM 1:49
6 PIKULIK Daria – ATOM Deweloper Posciellux.pl Wrocław 2:15
7 JACKSON Alison – Liv Racing Xstra 2:37
8 KUIJPERS Evy – Human Powered Health 2:44
9 TRUYEN Marthe – Plantur-Pura 2:59
10 KRÖGER Mieke – Human Powered Health 4:58