After an interrupted start to the season with a crash early on in the spring, Jesse Vandenbulcke demonstrated today that she’s back on form with a strong 12th place on stage 1 of the Ride London Classique.
The route took in some leafy Essex lanes, with a couple of QOM climbs but nothing hard enough to drop the fast finishers. It began and ended in Maldon, somewhere time trial fans will know for the ‘Maldon 10’, and where Alex Dowsett honed his craft. Warm weather blessed the peloton today, albeit with some wind which made it hard for breakaways to form successfully, and only one rider – Anna Henderson (Jumbo-Visma) – managed to make a gap going into the final 30km.
It went out to 1’40” at its longest, but the rider was reeled back in by the peloton and caught in the closing stages in Maldon town centre.
With the peloton back together, a sprint decided the day, and with plans changing to support Jesse on the stage, the team worked well to put her in a good position for the finale in Maldon High Street.
Lorena Wiebes (Team DSM) won the stage and Jesse managed to secure 12th place after a hectic finale and admitted she finally felt like she’d recovered from her crash earlier this year.
“I trusted Maike and Majo, and we went into the last 500 metres near the front and then I just went really full gas!
“After my crash, this is the first time I felt good again, so I’m happy with that and the teamwork was really good today”.
With plenty of positives to take into the rest of the race, the team will look to protect Jesse’s GC position and fight for stage results. Tomorrow’s course looks to be a little punchier as we head to Chelmsford for the start before heading to Epping after 141km.
Highlights of the stage are available on BBC iPlayer and the Red Button.