How the Race Finished
Victory went to Grace Brown (FDJ Nouvelle Aquitaine Futuroscope), who attacked from a group of ten leaders with 5km to go, was followed by Elisa Longo Borghini (Trek-Segafredo) and Kasia Niewiadoma (Canyon//SRAM), and proceeded to beat both of them in a perfectly timed sprint. As well as the stage, she also takes the lead of the general classification, after the leading group managed to hold off a fiercely chasing DSM, riding for double-stage winner and GC leader Lorena Wiebes.
The Main Action
The question of the day was whether the sharp Welsh climbs would be enough to drop Lorena Wiebes, who seems to be unable to lose a sprint, or whether it would be a day for the GC riders. The first attack of the day came from Teuntje Beekhuis (Jumbo-Visma). She was joined by Clara Copponi (FDJ Nouvelle Aquitaine Futuroscope), Maike van der Duin (Le Col – Wahoo), and Lily Williams (Human Powered Health). They went through the first intermediate sprint together, with Beekhuis taking maximum points, with Williams in second and van der Duin, current leader of the intermediate sprints classification, in third. They were only ever hovering twenty seconds or so off the front, however, and were swiftly caught again.
Beekhuis, however, was determined to be part of a move, and went again, accompanied by Mikayla Harvey (Canyon//SRAM), Elena Cecchini (SD Worx), and Maaike Boogaard (UAE Team ADQ). They had a little more leeway, with a minute over the peloton, but by the time the race hit 60km to go, they were caught.
A new leading group of ten formed, composed of GC favourites: Elisa Longo Borghini and Ellen van Dijk (both Trek-Segafredo), Kasia Niewiadoma and Elise Chabbey (both Canyon//SRAM) Kristen Faulkner and Alex Manly (both BikeExchange), Riejanne Markus (Jumbo Visma), Veronica Ewers (EF Education Tibco SVB), Grace Brown (FDJ Nouvelle Aquitaine Futuroscope), and Ashleigh Moolman Pasio (SD Worx). This new leading group went over the two Queen of the Mountains together. The first, Hirnant Bank, was taken by Longo Borghini, with Niewiadoma and Chabbey behind; the second, at Bryn-y-Fedwen, was taken by Chabbey, with Ewers and Niewiadoma in second and third, meaning Chabbey now moves into the lead of the mountains classification.
In the peloton behind, it was DSM, working for the currently all-dominant Lorena Wiebes, who were lined out on the front of a stretched-out peloton, fighting to reduce the gap to the leaders. The leaders were fully committed, perhaps remembering yesterday – when a leading group failed to co-operate, and let Wiebes back in – but DSM was slowly chipping away at the lead. They threw themselves at the descent, breaking up the peloton with the pressure of their speed.
On a long, straight road, DSM had the leaders in their sights. It was agonisingly close, but they couldn’t quite make the catch. Pfeiffer Georgi, who had been the emptying herself on the front, drifted back, before dragging herself back up to the front of the group – but despite her work, and despite the help of Movistar, they couldn’t quite match the power of the front group – although, by now, riders were starting to drop from the front, under the pressure of those who desperately wanted to stay away.
In the leading group, it was Grace Brown who made the decisive move. She attacked solo, with 5km to go. Behind her, Elisa Longo Borghini clawed her way onto Brown’s wheel, with Kasia Niewiadoma following. They came into the Flamme Rouge together, with Grace Brown leading them round the final corner, into a 600m finishing straight. Brown slowed, looking back, and it was Longo Borghini who cracked first, and started to sprint. Brown was patient, waiting on Longo Borghini’s wheel, until she slipped around her at the final moment and crossed the line first. Wiebes won the sprint from the peloton easily, but couldn’t keep hold of the lead in the general classification.
Kasia Niewiadoma moves into second on the GC, and Elisa Longo Borghini into third; most of the final leading group are now in the top ten. Although she has lost the lead in the general classification to Grace Brown, Wiebes continues to lead the points classification, ahead of Clara Copponi (FDJ Nouvelle Aquitaine Futuroscope) and Alex Manly (BikeExchange). Elise Chabbey has taken over the mountains classification from Christine Majerus, and, with the help of both Elise Chabbey and Kasia Niewiadoma in today’s top five, Canyon//SRAM lead the teams classification.