Liane Lippert 4th on Itzulia Women Opener

Liane Lippert 4th on Itzulia Women Opener

Liane Lippert finished the opening stage of the Itzulia Women race in the Basque Country to cross the line in fourth, winning the much-reduced bunch sprint on the uphill finish.

The first stage of the race was punctuated by two longer climbs mid-way through the stage which saw the bunch split, with Team DSM placing four riders in the front group, Lippert, Floortje Mackaij, Juliette Labous and Esmée Peperkamp.

After the team helped bring back a strong move of four in the second half of the stage, which Mackaij just missed out on and spent some time trying to bridge across to, a small group broke clear inside the final 35 kilometres and managed to stay clear right to the finish. This left the group behind racing for fourth from which Lippert proved fastest on the hill drag to the line.

Liane Lippert said after the stage: “It was an interesting race today. In the first part there was so much happening. We had Francesca and Léa following the moves then on the first climb riders were going out the back. When we were on the main climb we were well-positioned into it and over the top we were in a good situation with four of us.

“In the descent we lost a bit of control and that’s where the break went. This made it tough as we all had to chase to get the break back and once we made it the attacks started again. The final break went here and stayed away. We didn’t have the legs or punch at that moment to be there with them or bridge across. We can learn from this in the coming stages to use our energy in a smarter way.

“We know that when we’re there with four we can race and play our own cards in the next days. The shape is there for us and now we have to work on the details and chat together about how it was for everyone. We saw this with Esmée doing a lot of work in chasing the final break and then when Juliette and Floortje positioned me heading into the sprint for fourth place.”

Team DSM coach Huub Duijn added: “First day in the Basque Country today with two longer climbs in the parcours halfway through the race where the bunch split. In the front we still had four riders so were in a good position.

“In a downhill section four riders got away and Floortje was caught in between the peloton and the front for a while, but wasn’t able to make it across to the front. After she was caught Esmée started to pull for us, then later Juliette and Floortje joined too. The gap was closed and new attacks started. We where in the mix on these but unfortunately missed the right move that made it to the line.

“All of the team showed aggressive racing today and took responsibility in the chase when needed. We will take that teamwork and aggressive racing style with us tomorrow now.”