Lorena Wiebes, the powerful SD Worx sprinter, claimed an exciting victory in the opening stage of the Tour of Scandinavia, making her the first leader in this Women’s WorldTour stage race. Despite two challenging climbs in the final 20 kilometres, Wiebes managed to survive and secure victory in the 124.6-kilometre stage from Mysen to Halden.
The race was marked by a series of breakaway attempts and strategic manoeuvres. Zoë Backstedt made an early-stage attack and took the intermediate sprint only to be pulled back. This was followed by Femke Beuling’s bold move, setting off with Tiril Jørgensen. While Beuling fell back on the opening climb, Jørgensen rode solo for an extended period, maintaining a lead of more than three minutes before being caught by the peloton around 23 kilometres from the finish line.
The first significant climb, Fredriksten Fortress, saw the peloton explode. AG Insurance set a fierce tempo through the city street corners into the climb and launched an attack by Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio. That reduced the peloton to just around 6-7 riders by the summits but it had a chance to regroup to around 40 riders again before the next climb. Agnieszka Skalniak-Sojka briefly broke away solo, but she could not maintain her lead through the second climb of Fredriksten Fortress. Caught by Liane Lippert and Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig, it seemed that the stage may be destined for a thrilling finish between the leading duo.
However, as Wiebes survived the last climb and the riders regrouped, the dynamics of the race shifted once again. With four kilometres to go, Ludwig made another solo attempt just as it looked like she might be caught from the first attack and appeared to have the stage victory within her grasp. But the pursuit led by Lidl-Trek and Canyon SRAM reeled her in, and she was caught in the last 25 metres of the race.
The stage culminated in a dramatic sprint finish, where Wiebes showcased her dominance by beating Elisa Balsamo. As Balsamo led out, Wiebes comfortably overtook her and then Uttrup Ludwig before the line. The pair were the only ones to overtake Ludwig in those crucial final metres. Wiebes’ victory not only earned her the stage win but also positioned her as the first leader in the Tour of Scandinavia. Balsamo would end up receiving a fine and a loss of UCI points for not going onto the podium afterwards, leaving just Wiebes and Uttrup Ludwig there.
2023 Tour of Scandinavia Stage 1 result
Results powered by FirstCycling.com
Main photo credit: Cor Vos