The opening day of racing at AG Tour de la Semois saw the bunch take on a hilly 132 kilometre long route from Vresse-sur-Semois to Bièvre. It featured a tricky finish circuit, including the climb of Côte d’Orchimont which crested with eight kilometres remaining, and followed by rolling roads all the way to the line.
It was a very attacking start to the day with the team particularly active, rotating well and covering any dangerous moves. Yet, despite numerous attempts the bunch remained together before the elastic snapped and an eight rider group went clear. On the day her contract extension announcement was made, Franziska Koch impressed, riding strongly and making it into the move for Team DSM.
The breakaway’s advantage reached a maximum of two minutes but it matched the rolling terrain and fluctuated throughout the afternoon, before it fell and stabilised at around 30 seconds. On the final categorised climb of the day, Floortje Mackaij and Liane Lippert attacked out of the peloton and joined Koch out front in what was now a 13 rider leading group. However, the bunch were hot on their heels, trailing by just 15 seconds as the race entered the last five kilometres.
Mackaij attempted to break clear of the group but she was quickly brought back, and joined by some more counter attackers. In the reduced group sprint to the line Mackaij got up well to take a strong second place, with Lippert making it a double top ten for the team on the day with a fine seventh in the chasing group behind.
“It was a fun course out there today,” explained Mackaij. “Franzi did a really good job by being in the breakaway twice, and she did a big effort in the final for Liane and me. Earlier we were involved in a crash with Wilma, Coryn and me, and sadly Wilma had to leave the race. On the final climb Franzi was still out front in the break and Liane and me bridged up to her. We kept on attacking and with around four kilometres to go I attacked after a lead out from Franzi, but some riders then caught me. In the end it was five rider sprint, where I managed to take second place. We have several cards to play tomorrow with Franzi and Liane also close on GC, so that will be fun and exciting, I think.”
Team DSM coach Albert Timmer added: “I think we did a good race today. We tried to create situations that were always in our advantage. I think Franzi did a really good race by always being there for us. The last time up the climb Liane and Floortje made the jump, so we had three riders in the front group which was great. After that it was a little bit of a tactical, attacking game, and Floortje was solo for a little while. Some other riders joined her and in the sprint she was second behind Kopecky. I think we did the maximum possible today so we can be pleased with that. Unfortunately, Wilma had to leave the race today after being caught up in a fall in the peloton, earlier in the stage.”
|2||MACKAIJ Floortje||Team DSM||,,||5|
|3||KOSTER Anouska||Team Jumbo-Visma Women||,,||3|