In a resounding display of athleticism and strategic racing, European champion Lorena Wiebes clinched the fifth stage of the Thüringen Ladies Tour. A masterful sprint after a gruelling 132 kilometres saw her decisively outpace competitors, with Marta Bastianelli securing second and Marta Lach finishing third. This victory underscores an impressive streak for SD Worx, a team that remains unvanquished in the prestigious German stage race, having triumphed in all preceding four stages.
Characterised by a predominantly flat ending, the fifth stage of the Thüringen Ladies Tour was not without its challenges. The riders were met with a demanding ascent to Oberhof, a climb spanning 7.7 kilometres at an incline of 4.4%, topping out at 843 metres above sea level. An early attempt to break away was initiated by Diane Ingabire and Margot Vanpachtenbeke, but the surge was swiftly curtailed as SD Worx took command of the gradually thinning peloton.
In an unexpected turn of events, Laura Molenaar of Parkhotel Valkenburg was allowed some liberty. The 21-year-old showcased her endurance by carving out a solitary lead of two and a half minutes. However, SD Worx upped the ante, methodically shaving the gap to less than a minute. This prompted Franziska Brauße to attempt a daring leap towards the Dutch leader. Though she initially succeeded, the peloton regrouped less than ten kilometres later, with just over fifty kilometres remaining on the route.
Two more ascents lay in wait. Before the first could even fully materialise, Clara Emond from Arkéa launched an attack, only to be rapidly supplanted by Alena Ivanchenko. But by the time the peloton commenced the day’s final climb, she too had been absorbed. It was at this juncture that Lotte Kopecky decided to strike, creating a significant selection, though her manoeuvre did not yield a fresh leading group.
The final stretch, consisting of descending and level terrain, was punctuated by various breakout attempts. Anna van der Meiden made a bold bid in the closing three kilometres, but like those who tried before her, her efforts were futile. The stage was set for a pulsating sprint finish in Schmalkalden, where the finish line awaited after 132 kilometres. In a thrilling climax, the sprint was initiated by Kopecky, acting as the lead-out for Lorena Wiebes. The latter demonstrated superior speed, clinching victory with a commanding lead.
Wiebes’ triumph constitutes the fifth in a remarkable sequence of victories for SD Worx. This follows a successful team time trial on the inaugural day, and subsequent stage victories by Bredewold, Barbara Guarischi, and Lonneke Uneken.
“For me, it was more important to secure the stage victory here. After all, we already had the Yellow Jersey within the team. Now the goal is to defend the overall lead on Sunday – that’s the main objective. Who will succeed? We will see. I’m not here for the general classification. This is my second time here and I really like the Thüringen Tour. Some of the finishes are very tricky – but I enjoy that a lot.”Lorena Wiebes
Thüringen Ladies Tour Stage 5 result
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Main photo credit: Arne Mill