In a display of tenacity and tactical prowess, Dutch cyclist Karlijn Swinkels of Jumbo-Visma clinched the opening stage of the AG Tour de la Semois in Belgium. Riding with determination, Swinkels crossed the finish line solo, having broken free from the leading group, with her Swiss teammate Noemi Rüegg securing second place.
The stage, encompassing hilly terrain of 116.6 kilometres centred around Vresse-sur-Semois, saw no lead group emerge from the peloton for a long time. Jumbo-Visma, vigilant and in control, dictated the rhythm throughout the stage. The turning point arrived during the ascent of the Chatelet, located 21 kilometres from the end. Here, a breakaway formed, consisting of Swinkels, Rüegg, Dutch rider Quinty van de Guchte from Lotto Dstny, Clara Koppenburg and Morgane Coston of Cofidis, and Megan Armitage of Arkea.
The escapees quickly built a commendable lead of over a minute. However, as the kilometres ticked away, Van de Guchte found the pace too challenging, losing contact with the front and being swallowed by the chasing peloton. It was within the final two kilometres that Swinkels made her decisive move. Initiating a fierce attack, she carved out a gap that proved insurmountable for her rivals. With this win, Swinkels not only ended a four-year victory drought since the 2019 Vuelta a Burgos but also donned the leader’s jersey in the overall standings.
The day’s success was accentuated for Jumbo-Visma, as Rüegg’s second-place finish added to the team’s celebrations. With the final stage set for tomorrow, another challenging hilly route awaits the peloton. All eyes will be on Swinkels, Rüegg and Jumbo-Visma as they look to consolidate their positions in the race.
2023 AG Tour de la Semois Stage 1 result
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