Mieke Kröger proved every bit the time trial expert she is by powering to second place in the Lotto Belgium Tours opening day prologue time trial.
The result means that Kröger tops the points standings and will be resplendent in the green ‘Queen of the sprints – Happy Dog’ jersey.
“It’s always great to wear a jersey,” the 28-year-old said after the finish on the Chimay motor circuit. “I think it gives me a little more confidence and respect in the peloton and it’s good for the GC, so our aim is for tomorrow to keep that position.”
The Olympic team pursuit champion admitted that she wasn’t feeling the best physically but that her head was very much in the right place, proving the importance of mental wellbeing when it comes to performance.
“I was in the right mental space so that’s always positive for a prologue, so I could really push myself and yes I had fun,” Kröger said.
As the final starter and in the windiest conditions of the day – with a strong gust very nearly pulling the barriers into the road – Kröger had to quickly settle into a rhythm to try and beat the eventual stage winner Agnieszka Skalniak-Sójka’s time.
“It was quite windy, not super windy but you could feel it,” Kröger explains. “It was a course that you had to push all the way through.”
With only four left-hand corners and a downhill finishing straight, the 4.4-kilometer course suited aggressive and powerful riders.
“I went out harder than I thought I would just because the other girls told me that the way back is so quick,” Kröger explained of her pacing tactics. “I tried to not lose time on the rolling way out and then I just gave everything on the way back until the last corner – and then power again.”
With such small margins on a short course, as the team’s time-trial expert, Kröger needed to rely on the feedback from teammates Evy Kuijpers, Barbara Malcotti, Nina Buijsman, Henrietta Christie and Marit Raaijmakers to learn how the parcours raced.
“You can pre-ride the course as much as you like but in the end, the feeling can be very different,” Kröger says. “Having the girls give me details on how they were feeling was crucial for my performance.”
The Lotto Belgium Tour continues tomorrow with an expected sprint as the race heads to Brugge. You can watch all the action live on GCN+.
Lotto Belgium Tour prologue results
1 SKALNIAK-SÓJKA Agnieszka – Poland 05:25
2 KRÖGER Mieke – Human Powered Health 0:03
3 WOLLASTON Ally – AG Insurance – NXTG Team 0:04
4 ADEGEEST Loes – IBCT 0:10
5 HOLDEN Elizabeth – Le Col Wahoo 0:16
13 BUIJSMAN Nina – Human Powered Health 0:16
21 RAAIJMAKERS Marit – Human Powered Health 0:22
22 CHRISTIE Henrietta – Human Powered Health 0:22
28 KUIJPERS Evy – Human Powered Health 0:24
52 MALCOTTI Barbara – Human Powered Health 0:35