In the first full stage of the Simac Ladies Tour 2023, Italian cyclist Elisa Balsamo made her triumphant return to the winner’s podium, edging out her Dutch rival Lorena Wiebes of SD Worx in a mass sprint. Completing the podium was Charlotte Kool from Team DSM-Firmenich, who retained her overall lead in the race.
The 140-kilometre course around Gennep, was mostly flat bar 2 relatively easy QoM points, which initially deterred breakaway attempts. It was only when Femke de Vries of GT Krush Rebellease, Amalie Lutro from Uno-X, and Margaux Vigie of Lifeplus Wahoo managed to pull ahead that the racing dynamic shifted. They secured a one-minute lead before the peloton caught up, narrowing their advantage to a meagre 30 seconds and ultimately absorbing the breakaway trio.
De Vries, undeterred, initiated another solo attack upon entering Gennep’s local circuit. Yet, the peloton remained resolute, nullifying her effort about nine kilometres from the finish. Others like Quinty Ton and Christina Schweinberger also attempted to break free but found themselves reeled in as well before the finish.
Balsamo, who credited her victory to her teammates, especially Ilaria Sanguineti, recounted the final moments in a post-race interview. She mentioned being in a state of uncertainty as she crossed the finish line, owing to her all-out sprint. This win is a significant one for Balsamo, considering her tumultuous season marred by a jaw-fracturing fall at RideLondon Classique in May. Since then, she’s been chasing a first victory since the Setmana Ciclista Valenciana back in February, often thwarted by Wiebes, her sprint rival.
Balsamo’s feelings post-win were best encapsulated in the word “realisation,” as she described it. She acknowledged the collective support of her team and their belief in her, especially during her recovery period. The victory, she said, was a light at the end of a dark tunnel and a thank-you to everyone who stood by her.
On the other side, Charlotte Kool, who managed to secure third place, acknowledged her team’s efforts but expressed disappointment in her own performance. She attributed her failure to secure the win to a momentary lapse in positioning during the crucial final metres of the race. Kool, however, retains the overall lead and remains optimistic about future stages.
Balsamo’s resurgence in this race has certainly intensified the competition and provided a compelling narrative for the upcoming stages.
2023 Simac Ladies Tour Stage 1 result
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