Liane Lippert takes fighting 3rd place after late crash and attacking team display

Liane Lippert takes fighting 3rd place after late crash and attacking team display

The third day of racing at the Tour de Suisse Women saw the bunch head for the climbs and 124 kilometres from Vaduz to Chur; with a punchy hilltop finish awaiting them. It was a steady start to the day with a two-rider breakaway establishing itself fairly easily with all four Team DSM riders in the bunch, conserving energy for what was to come.

On the ascent to Gais the three minute advantage for the breakaway tumbled and over the top and down the descent it was all together with a group of around 50 riders forming a reducing peloton, with all four Team DSM riders present. The attacks started flying with Léa Curinier riding well to make the new break of five. The group worked well together and increased their lead to one minute and 30 seconds with 40 kilometres remaining but the peloton eventually got organised and began the chase.

Hitting the climb of St Luzisteig the gap had fallen and as a result a volley of attacks saw the breakaway split, with a trio forming out front and Curinier returning to the bunch. Curinier and Francesca Barale soon took to the front, as the team fully committed to the chase in an attempt to catch the break and set up Liane Lippert for the finale. After some superb work by Curinier and Barale, Floortje Mackaij came to the front and put the power down, reeling back in those who were ahead and shutting down the final ten seconds.

However, disaster struck the team as after a touch of wheels at around three kilometres to go Lippert hit the deck. Okay and quickly back up on her bike, Curinier assisted in the chase and Lippert returned to the back of the peloton just as they hit the bottom of the final climb with the flamme rouge in sight after Mackaij had helped to stall the pace.

Giving everything and fighting all the way to the line, Lippert sprinted to a strong and well-earned third place atop the hill – but a result that leaves a “what if?” feeling, while after her work Mackaij held on for tenth making it a double top ten on the stage for the team.

“A lot happened today,” explained Lippert after the finish. “We had the main break of the day which went after the climb and Léa was in there for us. No one in the peloton really wanted to bring it back but then Léa dropped on the next climb and came back to the bunch. Everyone then looked at us to chase so Léa, Francesca and Floortje did an amazing job to bring things back, they were really, really impressive. Then at that moment there was so much going on in the race and chaos in the bunch, and I touched a wheel and ended up on the ground. I got back up as quickly as I could and Léa helped close things a bit but we didn’t expect to get back. Then turning the last corner into the climb we made it back. Of course it’s hard to tell but I think if I hadn’t crashed it might have been different as the pace wasn’t super high so it was ideal for Balsamo. I think if I was there from the start then Floortje would have gone crazy hard to give us the best chance for me to go for it in the finish. It’s of course a bit disappointing because we really thought we could have won the stage but on the other hand we see that we’re all strong; and that gives us motivation to give it another try tomorrow. I hope to recover well from the crash as for now I’m feeling okay.”

Team DSM coach Huub Duijn added: “Léa and Francesca covered the moves in the first part of the race in a good way like planned, which resulted in Léa being part of a five rider break. They gained around one minute and 30 seconds and with 25 kilometres to go we had a three kilometre climb. Unfortunately, Léa dropped there, and three riders were left in front. Then we fully committed to bring Liane in position for the final, and Francesca, Léa and Floortje really showed great teamwork bringing the break back. With three kilometres to go Liane crashed, but impressively fought her way back, with help of Lea, to the reduced bunch. To then still be able to get third is pretty crazy and showed how strong she and we were today. Of course it is also bitter sweet as the way we rode deserved more. Tomorrow is a really hard stage in the mountains and we will keep on fighting for that stage win.”