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Sofia Bertizzolo triumphs in the opening stage of the Tour de Romandie

In an exhilarating finish, Italy’s Sofia Bertizzolo, representing UAE Team ADQ, pipped a prematurely celebrating Carina Schrempf to clinch victory in the first stage of the Ronde van Romandië for women. Mischa Bredewold rounded out the podium in third.

The inaugural stage of the Tour de Romandie Féminin charted a course of 144.1 kilometres, starting and concluding in Yverdon-les-Bains. While the route showcased multiple hilly sections, the prospects of a sprint finish seemed plausible since the summit of the last categorised climb was over 40 kilometres from the finish line.

An early breakaway was initiated by Clara Honsinger within the first ten kilometres, who carved out a significant lead that at one point extended to over three and a half minutes. However, the peloton reeled her back in a bit over 40 kilometres to the finish, on the ascent to Arrissoules. The climb saw high-paced action, with Demi Vollering making her presence felt, but it wasn’t until the flat section post-climb that Marlen Reusser made a move. She was soon joined by compatriot Elise Chabbey, but the chasers, including Amber Kraak, and the rest of the trimmed-down peloton managed to bridge back.

Despite multiple attempts to break free, the group stayed largely intact leading up to the final 10 kilometres. That’s when Carina Schrempf made her bold move, distancing herself from the pack. The Austrian champion seemed poised for a solo win, even raising her arms in presumed victory. Yet, in a dramatic twist, Bertizzolo sprinted past to snatch victory from the arms of the celebrating Schrempf. Following them, Bredewold sprinted to third place, and Fem van Empel finished fifth.

In a post-race reaction, a dejected Fem van Empel reflected on the day: “I am very disappointed. Competing for the top spot and falling short is always hard. But I need to recognise that competing at this level in a UCI WorldTour race is still a new experience for me. The final stretch of a race is always frantic, yet today I held my ground.”

Eva van Agt, returning to racing post her Tour de France Femmes accident, remarked, “It’s a different feeling coming back, but once the race was on, I felt at home. I might not be at my peak, but I’m here, strong and supporting my team. We have a brilliant team here, and the energy is great.”

As the peloton regroups, the second stage, deemed the ‘queen stage’, promises another thrilling day of racing in the Tour de Romandie Féminin.

2023 Tour de Romandie Féminin Stage 1 result

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