How the race finished
Marta Lach (Ceratizit-WNT Pro Cycling) won the third and final stage of the Tour de Romandie Féminin, winning the bunch sprint in a photo finish ahead of Tamara Dronova (Roland Cogeas Edelweiss Squad). Arlenis Sierra (Movistar) took third across the line. Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio secured the overall win in the General Classification from Annemiek van Vleuten (Movistar) and Elisa Longo Borghini (Trek Segafredo).
How it happened
In the final stage of the inaugural Tour de Romandie Féminin, the peloton took on a rolling 147.6km route from Fribourg to Geneva. With the top four on GC starting the day within 1 minute and 5 seconds of one another, and two categorised climbs along the route, it was set to be an aggressive day, with the final fight for the GC and the stage both in play.
The first attacks came from the gun with Elise Uijen (Team DSM) and Quinty Ton (Liv Racing Xstra) making a move. The pair weren’t allowed to stay away for long, and once caught the peloton stayed together despite a few more riders trying to get away. Further down the road Liv Racing Xstra took their chances again, with Eva Buurmann getting a small gap on the field.
At the base of the Category 2 climb up to Villars-le-Comte, Buurmann was caught. As the road pitched up to 14%, the breakout rider of yesterday Petra Stiasny (Roland Cogeas Edelweiss Squad) attacked. Many riders were dropped from the peloton as a hard pace was set up the climb. Stiasny led over the top, with Elise Uijen in second, taking her to an unassailable lead in the mountains classification.
The peloton came back together just after the climb. Riders kept trying to get away, but Team SD Worx controlled the peloton, managing the moves to keep the leader’s jersey secure for Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio. Eventually, Quinty Ton attacked again & Ella Harris (Canyon//Sram Racing) joined her. The pair quickly gained a minute on the bunch, and worked strongly together to continue to extend their lead until they were clear by over 6 minutes.
Their move set the scene for a long day of chasing for the peloton behind. After initially seeming apathetic to the move, it was eventually FDJ Suez Futuroscope, Movistar and Team Bike Exchange Jayco who decided to put their riders to work to bring the gap back down. Under their guidance, the peloton sped into the base of the second categorised climb, and the gap tumbled to under 3 minutes with 37km remaining. Over the top of the climb the size of the peloton was significantly reduced, but the impetus to chase remained.
On the long descent towards the finish line in Geneva UAE Team ADQ joined in the chase, with Sophie Wright doing a significant portion of the work. The gap tumbled. Within 10km to go Harris and Ton were holding on to a lead of around 30 seconds, before the rainbow strips of Annemiek Van Vleuten (Movistar) came to the front and brought the pair back into touching distance.
Gritting their teeth, Harris and Ton continued to swap turns, holding off the peloton until the final kilometres. They were finally swallowed up with only a few kilometres to go, as Georgia Williams led up the sprint train for Team Bike Exchange Jayco. FDJ Suez Futuroscope dropped off their sprinter Marie le Net around the final right hand bend into the finishing straight, and the sprint opened up early. Tamara Dronova hit the front holding a seating sprint position, as the other riders fanned out on either side. On the far right of the road Marta Lach came out of the shelter of the wheels with enough speed power past those in front of her, throwing her bike across the line to take the win in a photo finish with Dronova.
After being safely piloted by Team SD Worx all day, Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio finished safely in the front bunch, raising her first just after the finish line as she celebrated her win in the overall general classification. With a bunch sprint finish, there were no major changes at the top of the GC standings.
Race Report by Sophie Hamer