Ilse Pluimers became U23 European Champion on home soil on Friday, after a flawless display. The 108km event took in six laps and culminated on the famous Vamberg.
Despite a flurry of attacks, the peloton remained as one until late into the race, when the first cracks began appearing. A dangerous group got away in the closing laps, and Ilse was there. Together with Great Britain’s Anna Shackley, she then opened a small gap on the cobbled section that proved to be decisive.
As the duo began the last ascent with a few seconds in hand, Ilse remained attentive and focused. She made her move not far from the finish, powering to a resounding victory to the delight of her fans.
For the rider of AG Insurance – Soudal Quick-Step, this was her second title won at the European Championships, after her win in 2019, when she was victorious in the juniors race held in Alkmaar. Ilse was joined in the top ten by two AG Insurance – Soudal Quick-Step teammates – Gaia Masetti (4th) and Julia Kopecky (6th) – results that serve as testimony of the squad’s fantastic development program.
“At first, the race proceeded quite calmly, with the peloton staying together for a long time, and not much of note occurred,” said sport director Christian Kos. “However, everything changed after a strong attack by Zoë Bäckstedt, even though she was eventually caught. It was only after that point that the race truly came alive. In the final lap, we witnessed numerous attack attempts, especially from Julia Kopecky, Gaia Masetti, and Ilse Pluimers, who eventually found themselves in a leading group of six. It became evident that this group was the decisive phase of the race, with attacks being launched continuously. Ilse initiated one of these attacks, which ultimately proved to be the game-changer. In the end, Ilse and another rider managed to stay ahead and delivered an impressive performance in the finale. This resulted in a well-deserved European jersey for Ilse, the crowning achievement of her season!”