How the Race Finished
It seemed like a fourth victory at Postnord Vagarda for Marianne Vos: from a breakway group of Pfeiffer Georgi (Team DSM), Audrey Cordon-Ragot (Trek-Segafredo), and Valerie Demey (Liv Racing Xstra), she comfortably won the sprint, after Pfeiffer Georgi spent herself with an attack in the final kilometre.Twenty minutes later, however – after she’d had time to celebrate with her team – it was bad news: Vos was disqualified, for an improper position on the handlebars. The race was awarded, instead, to Audrey Cordon-Ragot, who’d created the leading move, but who crossed the line in second place. It was a double victory for Trek-Segafredo, as they took the team time trial and the road race – but probably not in the manner they’d have wanted.
The Main Action
It was a highly active race, with aggressive attacking: with Lorena Wiebes probably the most dominant sprinter in the world, no-one wanted to take her to the line.
Stine Borgli (FDJ-Suez-Futuroscope) was the first to attack and get a gap, gaining as much as up to a minute on the peloton after 25km. Behind, Shirin van Anrooij (Trek-Segafredo) was busy attacking, at one point even splitting the peloton. The increased pace meant that Stine Borgli was caught quickly, with 67km to go. A flurry of attacks followed, with Trek-Segafredo particularly lighting up the race: Lauretta Hanson (Trek-Segafredo) and Lea Teutenberg (Ceratizit-WNT) gave it a go, followed by the duo of Chloe Hosking (Trek-Segafredo) and Shirin van Anrooij. On the Hägruna climb, Demi Vollering (SD Worx) and Mischa Bredewold (Parkhotel Valkenburg) both attacked, followed by Jade Wiel (FDJ Suez-Futuroscope), who managed a small gap, but was reeled back in. Trek-Segafredo continued to race aggressively, with more attacks from Hosking and Hanson. Kata Blanka Vas (SD Worx) then attacked, followed by Alicia Gonzalez (Movistar); Gonzalez managed a gap, with three laps left.
DSM reeled Gonzalez back in, and things calmed down momentarily; teams were perhaps preparing for a bunch sprint, since no attacks had stuck so far. However, Trek-Segafredo kept up their hyper-aggressive strategy: Hosking and van Anrooij set a pace, and Audrey Cordon Ragot and Ellen van Dijk attacked. SD Worx and Trek-Segafredo were both trying to make the race as difficult as possible, attempting to move the nearly unbeatable Lorena Wiebes from the equation.
With13km to go, it was Cordon-Ragot who made the decisive move. She attacked, and was immediately pursued by Valerie Demey (Liv Racing Xstra); Marianne Vos (Jumbo-Visma) and Pfeiffer Georgi (Team DSM) quickly followed. It was Cordon-Ragot and Vos working together that kept the move going, with Pfeiffer Georgi sitting at the back, using the fact that her team leader, Lorena Wiebes, was in the group behind – and almost guaranteed to win any bunch sprint.
They had a slender gap, only fifteen seconds strong, but it wasn’t closing. Kata Blanka Vas and Demi Vollering appeared on the front of the bunch behind, trying to close the gap, after SD Worx had missed out entirely on the move, but it was to no avail. Parkhotel Valkenburg tried to close it as well, but the gap was solid – the peloton would still be ten seconds down as they crossed the line. Vos looked the strongest in the leading group; for a moment, as she came to the front, the others seemed unable to hold her wheel. Her reputation and palmares were working their pressure, as well: Georgi said afterwards that she made her final, last-ditch attack because she knew she couldn’t beat her in a sprint. She attacked with 900m to go; Vos and Cordon-Ragot quickly caught her, but Demey couldn’t match the acceleration, and for the final kilometre she was fighting to make contact. Marianne Vos tightened her shoes; the peloton were ten seconds behind. Georgi led it out; Cordon-Ragot was the first to sprint. Vos was behind, and had to come around Georgi and Cordon-Ragot – which she did with relative ease, and with the time to look around, check, and celebrate.
Half an hour later, the news was broken to Vos, as she was waiting for the podium, that she had been disqualified by the commissaires for resting her hands in the middle of her handlebars. She had no option but to take her bags and leave, and it was Cordon-Ragot – who didn’t look particularly pleased about the commissaires’ decision – who stood on the podium in the top spot instead.
The podium, after Vos was removed, was Audrey Cordon-Ragot (Trek-Segafredo) in first, Pfeiffer Georgi (Team DSM) in second, and Valerie Demey (Liv Racing Xstra) in third. Lorena Wiebes (Team DSM) won the sprint from the peloton, only ten seconds behind the break, ahead of Baraba Guarischi (Movistar) and Tamara Dronova-Balabolina (Roland Cogeas Edelweiss Squad).