“It’s not the big target, but I want to start well,” she told Cyclingnews ahead of this weekend’s race in Ghent. “It’s a race that I love, especially having won it, it holds a special place for me. But I also love the characteristics of this race. It’s very similar to Flanders, but without as much hype. There are still a lot of cobbles, a lot of climbs, and it’s the first race of the European season… I love the classics, they’re my favourite time of the season, and I think if you can start well here then it sets you up for the whole spring.
“Okay, if you win here then maybe you’re not going to be as good by the time you get to Flanders because it’s still a long time, but if you can get a good result, get that confidence early and know where you stand then you can build on that form.”
Cromwell is a little more cautious this season at peaking so early in the year with some major targets down the line. The Australian has her eyes set on a spot at the Olympic Games in Rio and knows that she needs to time things right if she wants to hit a sweet-spot of form in August.
“I always come to Het Nieuwsblad knowing that it’s a race I’m motivated for, and I want to do well. I’ve always come off the Australian summer, so I’m usually a bit further ahead of the others, but this year the big target is the Olympics in August so you can’t be flying now because you won’t be able to hold it until August. And if you then go on to the Worlds, that’s in October, so it’s a very long season.
“I’d love to win the race again, for sure, but I know I’m not at my absolute peak. I know my form’s good, though, and coming off the success we had in Qatar with the team I’m hoping we can keep that rolling.
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