Charlotte Kool, the dominant force in the Baloise Ladies Tour and four-time stage winner, couldn’t clinch a fifth victory today. The 24-year-old rider from Team dsm-firmenich fell ill overnight from Saturday to Sunday and didn’t participate in the final stage to and from Deinze. Kool’s absence was felt in today’s closing stage of the Baloise Ladies Tour as without a clear-cut sprinter, the peloton mistimed its catch of the break.
In Kool’s absence, Serbian cyclist Jelena Eric triumphed in the final stage. Along with two of her fellow breakaway riders, she managed to stay just ahead of the fast-approaching peloton. The overall victory was taken by Lucinda Brand, who had secured a comfortable lead in yesterday’s time trial in Knokke-Heist.
The 121-kilometre race in and around Deinze made up of seven local 17-kilometre laps promised another likely sprint stage. For the general classification, leader Lucinda Brand had a fairly comfortable 24-second lead to protect, despite being down to just two Lidl-Trek teammates in the race.
The breakaway group of five riders, including two cross-riders Aniek van Alphen and Alice Maria Arzuffi, Femke de Vries, Jelena Eric and Sofie van Rooijen, was kept under control by hard-racing from Lisa Klein. Jumbo-Visma and Team DSM who played key roles in closing the gap. It had peaked at about two minutes earlier in the stage.
In the last ten kilometres, the leading group still had energy reserves. Meanwhile, Jumbo-Visma’s support riders in the peloton were tiring. From a slim ten-second lead, the gap suddenly increased back up to half a minute. The four riders – now without the exhausted Sofie van Rooijen – seemed set to battle it out for the stage victory but it would be a close-run thing.
The peloton came remarkably close in the final metres, swallowing up Van Alphen but unable to reclaim Eric, De Vries and Arzuffi. The Serbian timed her sprint perfectly, barely managing to hold off De Vries and the chasing peloton.
2023 Baloise Ladies Tour Stage 4 result
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