The inaugural stage of the Tour de Suisse Women’s event this year comprised three rounds of a hilly circuit, encompassing a mountain and intermediate sprint on each lap but spanning a mere 56km in total.
It was Elise Chabbey who initiated an attack during the first climb of Burgstrasse, gaining maximum points and swiftly extending her lead beyond a minute as her competitors declined to pursue. Eventually, subsequent attacks in the peloton accelerated the tempo, and Chabbey maintained a 26-second lead as she passed the finish line for the initial time.
Despite additional attacks, Chabbey’s lead returned to a full minute at the second intermediate sprint. However, misfortune struck for Vas, suffering a puncture but swiftly mounting her replacement bike and rejoining the peloton. A mere 21km from the finish line, Lizzie Deignan instigated a move that resulted in a fleeting chase group of eight riders, and Chabbey commenced the final lap of 19.9km with a 46-second lead.
Team SD Worx assumed control of the chase, with Niamh Fisher-Black driving the pace on the climb, shrinking the gap to 26 seconds and reducing the peloton to fewer than 30 competitors. Vollering and Reusser stepped up, further diminishing the gap to 14 seconds at the ten-kilometre mark. Although Chabbey regained a few seconds, she was caught with three kilometres remaining.
In the final kilometres, nine riders broke away from the remainder of the peloton, and Reusser steered Vas through the last two bends 250 metres from the finish. Arlenis Sierra was hot on the Hungarian’s tail out of the turn, but a sprint by Vollering pushed the Cuban racer into the wind. A move that proved crucial in helping her teammate.
Vas unleashed her sprint with only 150 metres remaining, and despite Sierra’s close finish, Vas clinched the stage victory. Gasparrini swept past a jubilant Vollering to secure third place.
Vas is also the frontrunner for the GC as we approach Sunday’s 25.7-kilometre time trial, four seconds ahead of Sierra and six in front of Gasparrini. ITT World Championship bronze medallist Reusser holds the fourth position at eight seconds, followed by Vollering at nine seconds.
“It feels really good. I’m really happy it’s a bit unbelievable. Marlen and Demi helped a lot, it was really a team effort. I could not do it without them. This was the plan. After a short race like this, I think I am the fastest now.”Blanka Vas
2023 Tour de Suisse Stage 1 result
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