Pauliena Rooijakkers stepped onto the general classification podium today, taking third place after the final stage of the Tour de Suisse. The CANYON//SRAM Racing rider gave it all on the final climb up to Lenz to cross the line in fifth place in a hard-fought battle for the overall. Pauliena won the mountain classification, the team won the team classification and Neve Bradbury jumped into eleventh overall.
The short but challenging stage had over 2000m elevation in less than 100km. CANYON//SRAM Racing controlled the pace for much of the stage, keeping Pauliena well-positioned to win the first mountain intermediate and secure the classification. The stage and overall winner, Lucinda Brand (TFS) attacked the downhill with Jolanda Neff (Switzerland) and the duo had 59 seconds gap at the base of the final 6km-long climb. Brand went ahead solo leaving the small peloton to chase, creating an exciting finale, where Rooijakkers and former leader Kristen Faulkner battled it out on the steep gradients.
“We had a good team plan going into today’s final stage and each of my teammates did fantastically. They kept me safe and in position. I’m really grateful for their work,” said Pauliena.
“Brand had a large gap and I was worried about that. After Soraya pulled on the front, I took over and it was too early to do so much. With 2.5km to go, I basically exploded. I feel sad for my teammates that I couldn’t finish it off and win GC. Yes, we took the mountain jersey but the goal was the GC. (Kristen) Faulkner was just too strong and Brand played it well. I gave everything I had today.”
After recovering from Covid-19 in May, Pauliena returned to racing at Mont Ventoux Dénivelé Challenges and feels like Tour de Suisse has played an important role in her preparation for her goals in July.
“This stage race was four solid days of racing and I have to say that I really feel like I’m now completely recovered. It was an improvement from Mont Ventoux and it gives me a good build-up to next month,” added Pauliena.
Neve Bradbury finished 11th on the stage which meant she leap-frogged into 11th on the GC and 2nd in the Best Young Rider classification.
Teammate Soraya Paladin said, “We committed to our plan today because we know Pauliena is strong in this kind of uphill final. We cannot be sad about the result. We tried out best and there were two riders stronger today.”
“For me personally, I did a good block of training before this tour. I’m a bit disappointed I didn’t get a podium on yesterday’s stage, but I am happy with my shape and aim for a good result next month at the Giro.”