How the Race Finished
In a finish that was a lot less complicated than yesterday’s narrow, twisting run-in, nothing could stop Lorena Wiebes (Team DSM) from proving, yet again, that she is the fastest woman in the world. Although Barbara Guarischi (Le Col-Wahoo) and Shari Bossuyt (Canyon//SRAM) were just behind her wheel, once Wiebes started her sprint, she left them in the dust, finishing several bike lengths ahead of the entire field. Guarsichi and Bossuyt had to be content with second and third.
The Main Action
The day started out with tough fights for the intermediate sprints, and their bonus seconds, with the GC still tight after two sprint-focused days. Maike Van Der Duin (Le Col-Wahoo), winner of both intermediate sprints yesterday, won the first sprint of the day, ahead of Elena Cecchini (SD Worx) and Clara Copponi (FDJ Nouvelle Aquitaine Futuroscope). Copponi, current leader of GC, seemed aware of the threat any bonus seconds could pose to her slim lead, and dominated the second intermediate sprint, ahead of Van Der Duin and Sofia Bertizzolo (UAE Team ADQ).
After the intermediate sprints were over, a breakaway finally went. It was another solo rider from CAMS-Basso: this time, it was Sammie Stuart, in her first race for the team, and first World Tour race. At one point, she had a minute and twenty seconds, but, with 20km to go, she was caught by the bunch.
At this point, attacks started to fly: the one that stuck came from Gladys Verhulst (Le Col – Wahoo) and Lily Williams (Human Powered Health). The peloton didn’t let them have much of a lead, but as they approached the second Queen of the Mountains of the day, Verhulst accelerated away from Williams, determined to pick up the maximum points over the summit. Behind those two, Christine Majerus (SD Worx), current mountains leader, and Elise Chabbey, second in the classification, took the remaining points.
The chasing peloton was then split in two: a big crash meant riders ended up in a ditch at the side of the road. The front group included most of Trek-Segafredo and BikeExchange, along with, crucially, Lorena Wiebes (Team DSM) and her sprint leadout. With the power of Ellen van Dijk on the front of the peloton, the two escapees were reeled back in, and with two kilometres left, the sprint lead-outs began arranging themselves.
BikeExchange and Trek-Segafredo both took their turn on the front, but Wiebes was always hovering behind them, ominous. In the final few hundred metres, it was first Franziska Koch, then Charlotte Kool – who’d moved her way up at the very last moment – who gave Wiebes an immaculate leadout, and then gave way to Wiebes. She exploded out, and left the others to fight for podium places.
Clara Copponi (FDJ Nouvelle-Aquitaine) continues to lead the GC, but only by 3 seconds ahead of Maike Van Der Duin (Le Col – Wahoo), and four seconds ahead of Lorena Wiebes. She also leads the points classification, with Wiebes in second, and Sofia Bertizzolo (UAE Team ADQ) in third. Christine Majerus still leads the mountains classification, with Elise Chabbey second, but Gladys Verhulst moves into third after her exploits today. FDJ Nouvelle-Aquitaine Futuroscope also lead the teams classification.