How the Race Finished
Alex Manly (BikeExchange-Jayco) won the fourth stage of the Tour of Scandinavia, sprinting from a small group that got away just kilometres before the end of the race – and that came within a whisker of being caught. Chloe Hosking (Trek-Segafredo) and Laura Tomasi (UAE Team ADQ) rounded out the podium. Marianne Vos (Jumbo-Visma), despite not quite pulling off four stages in a row, still managed to come in sixth, getting incredibly close to catching the group just before the line, and maintaining the lead in the general classification.
The Main Action
After Marianne Vos’ hattrick in the opening stages, it was clear that if the peloton came to the line altogether, there was a high chance she’d win again. It seemed that the teams had decided, instead, that they’d do anything to get off the front of the peloton, and would make the day as hard as possible. It was an endless cycle of attack and counter-attack, with the peloton almost never easing off and allowing them to get a gap. Trek-Segafredo and Liv Racing Xstra were particularly aggressive. A few solo riders or duos managed to get a small gap, but they were never allowed more than a minute.
With 57km to go, Femke Markus (Parkhotel Valkenburg) attacked, taking advantage of a brief moment of calm to create a gap. She quickly had 25 seconds over the peloton, but there was no hint of relaxation behind her; Trek-Segafredo were chasing her down. Behind, riders were trying to bridge across, but no-one could get to her. Alison Jackson – who had already won the first intermediate sprint, continuing her green jersey defence – attacked, and the gap dropped further. Liv Racing Xstra appeared on the front of the peloton, and with 47.5km to go, Markus was caught.
The next riders to go were Lourdes Oyarbide (Movistar) and Mischa Bredewold (Parkhotel Valkenburg), taking advantage of a moment’s relaxation to get free. They soon had thirty seconds, but the peloton showed no interest in giving them any more time. Eluned King (Le Col-Wahoo) made an attempt to bridge across, but couldn’t make it. The work of BikeExchange brought them back with 35km to go.
Trek-Segafredo continued to be very aggressive: Elynor Backstedt and Lucinda Brand were both attacking off the front. With 30km to go, all of Liv Racing Xstra’s efforts finally paid off: Valerie Demey managed to get free – only to be caught again within a few kilometres. With 25km to go, there was suddenly a strong group ahead, with riders like Elynor Backstedt, Alison Jackson, Floortje Mackaij (Team DSM). Uno-X, however, were alert to the danger, and dragged it back together – everyone was back to square zero.
Jackson appeared on the front of the peloton, looking for more intermediate sprint points; she was pipped to the post by Tamara Dronova (Roland Cogeas Edelweiss), but picked up enough points to wear the green jersey for another day. Liane Lippert (Team DSM) tried a few attacks, but there was never quite enough rise in the road for it to stick.
The decisive move came when Alice Barnes mirrored her move from yesterday, and attacked with 10km to go. She was joined quickly by Alex Manly (BikeExchange). With 3.5km to go, Anouska Koster (Jumbo-Visma) bridged to Manly and Barnes, dragging three people across with her. The group was now six-strong: Koster, Manly and Barnes, along with Laura Tomasi (UAE Team ADQ), Neve Bradbury (Canyon//SRAM) and Chloe Hosking (Trek-Segafredo).
Behind them, three SD Worx riders were caught up in a crash on a roundabout, just metres away from the 3km safe-zone for any incidents on a sprint run-in. Niamh Fisher-Black broke a collarbone, while Demi Vollering, who would have been a favourite for the GC, was reported to undergo concussion tests after the race; they both came in five minutes down.
The group up ahead looked as if they had just enough of a gap, but the peloton, spear-headed by Marianne Vos, were fast encroaching. It looked, for a moment, as if it would be heartbreak for the group, with Vos barrelling down the finishing strait towards them, but Manly managed to hold enough speed. She took the stage, with Hosking in second and Tomasi in third – and Vos was consigned to sixth place.
Marianne Vos keeps a twenty-second lead on the GC, with Alex Manly moving up into second, thanks to her bonus seconds for winning the stage. Alison Jackson (Liv Racing Xstra) extended her lead in the points classification, with 29 points to Marianne Vos’ 22. Amber Kraak (Jumbo-Visma) now has a commanding lead in the Queen of the Mountains classification, before they start the stages with significant climbing. Shari Bossuyt (Canyon//SRAM) remains in the lead of the youth classification, after finishing the stage in 10th place, with Megan Jastrab (Team DSM) and Kata Blanka Vas (SD Worx) both eight seconds behind her.