After yesterday’s brilliant 1-2 in the prologue by the team, Lorena Wiebes and Leah Kirchmann looked resplendent in the yellow and green jerseys respectively as they rolled out of the start line in Steinfort. Immediately the racing was on, with attack after attack made on the opening hilly circuit. The team rode well as a group, covering any dangerous moves before a two-rider breakaway escaped and built up an advantage of almost three minutes.
Unfortunately at 70 kilometres to go, race leader Wiebes was caught up in a crash but she managed to remount and return to the bunch. Rotating really well when following attacks, no counter attacking group was able to escape without a rider from the team in it. As a result, the duo remained out front as the peloton charged towards the final 15 kilometres. After some good early work by Esmée Peperkamp, Wiebes took over at the front of the bunch, burying herself to reduce the gap to those ahead.
The junction was made on the lower slopes of the climb where Juliette Labous did well to cover the inevitable attacks. Although a few more attempts were made, the stage come down to a punchy uphill finish where Coryn Rivera positioned Kirchmann well towards the front, with the Canadian riding sprinting to a strong third place. Labous followed closely home in fifth place, making it a double top five on the stage for the team.
With bonus seconds on the line, Kirchmann retains her second place on GC ahead of tomorrow’s final stage.
“Today was quite the exciting stage,” said Kirchmann after the stage. “A break of two riders attacked on one of the early climbs, but the team did a great job to keep the gap in check. We were also always represented in the front of the bunch when other teams put some pressure on the climbs. We decided that I would go for the sprint after Lorena unfortunately crashed during the race. She still showed such an impressive fighting spirit to help close the gap in the last lap. The final was quite explosive with the 600 metre climb at three kilometres to go already tough on the legs, and then an uphill drag to the finish. Coryn, Juliette & myself lost each other for the final kilometre, but I was able to find space to come around on the left and could do a strong sprint onto the podium. We are looking forward to fighting again for the GC tomorrow since the time gaps are still close.”
Team DSM coach Albert Timmer added: “I think as a team we did what we could in the first part of the race. We had everything under control until unfortunately Lorena crashed. She did really well to come back and she really tried for us, but after that we had lost one of our cards for the sprint. With Leah, Coryn and Juliette we still had some really good cards we could play in the sprint though. We aimed for it and we did our best. Lorena also went full in the chase to try and catch the break. We did well, we raced good and we’re now ready for tomorrow. It’s a shame we lost the lead but tomorrow it’s now up to someone else to control things and up to us to really race.”
Stage General classification Points classification Youth classification Mountains classification Teams classification
|1||NORSGAARD Emma||Movistar Team||3:14:06||25|
|2||CONFALONIERI Maria Giulia||Ceratizit-WNT Pro Cycling||,,||20|
|3||KIRCHMANN Leah||Team DSM||0:02||15|