The Trek-Segafredo World Champion wins the time trial and reclaims race lead
Ellen van Dijk took her time trial prowess to the road in Stage 3b Saturday, winning the 15.6-kilometre test in 19 minutes and 34 seconds, the only rider to finish under 20 minutes. It was van Dijk’s second win and second time in the leader’s jersey of the five-day race after winning the prologue.
I am happy with this win. To be honest I felt like I needed to win this one because there were not any big TT favourites here. So, I wanted to win with a good margin for the GC and I am happy that I could do that.
A Dutch battle has animated the Baloise Ladies Tour since the first day. Time trial specialist Ellen van Dijk and arguably the best sprinter in the women’s peloton, Lorena Wiebes, have gone head-to-head to see who will rule at the end of six races that make up the tour. It has been a thrilling fight, pitting two riders at the top of their specialties against each other.
While van Dijk took the first leader’s jersey, Wiebes has held it since day two after sprinting to wins in the last three stages. Wiebes entered the critical race against the clock Saturday evening with a 20-second lead over van Dijk.
In general, it’s been about sprints so it’s difficult to make a difference in these races. And Lorena Wiebes she’s on fire in the sprints, all year already, she’s almost unbeatable. So that’s hard for us, and why I am happy we have a TT here to beat her in that way.
The question on everyone’s minds: would it be enough? Could Wiebes limit her losses to the World Champion over 15.6 kilometres and keep a chance of winning the overall title alive?
Stage 3b turned into an ultimate showdown between the two Dutch cyclists.
Van Dijk crossed the line with her best answer. She bettered Wiebes by 51 seconds and will take a 31-second lead into the final stage Sunday. Enough breathing room to overcome the bonus seconds that Wiebes can win in sprints.
New fastest time by @ellenvdijk with only Wiebes to come.
— Trek-Segafredo (@TrekSegafredo) July 16, 2022
So now everything is safe with the bonus seconds, and of course we still need to ride tomorrow, but I can’t lose the GC anymore on bonus seconds. If I just keep safe, we should be fine. And we are here with a good team so I am confident we can keep [the jersey]. Of course, we still need to do it.
The final resolution of who will come out on top – time trial specialist or sprinter – will be finalised Sunday in a 120-kilometre race in Deinze, Belgium, the home base of Trek-Segafredo. Without doubt, van Dijk has earned a substantial time advantage, and it’s never a bad thing to have a “home” advantage as well.
Normally tomorrow’s stage is designed as a sprint stage as well. Perhaps a group can go, and maybe Lorena has a special surprise for us? To be honest I am not too worried, we have a really strong team and I also feel good, so I think if she attacks us, we can manage it. It’s not over until it’s over she we have to be sharp tomorrow and bring it home. GC will be the focus for me and Wiebes can go for another sprint stage win, that’s fine with me!
Teammate Audrey Cordon Ragot finished in 3rd place in the time trial to maintain her 3rd place overall, setting up Trek-Segafredo for a possible big homecoming celebration in Deinze.