How the Race Finished
It was another inevitable sprint victory for Lorena Wiebes (Team DSM), who has made nearly a clean sweep of the two British stage races, with three victories in each. A third place on the stage for Elisa Longo Borghini (Trek Segafredo) secured her the overall victory by a single second, snatching it from Grace Brown (FDJ Nouvelle-Aquitaine Futuroscope) at the last possible moment.
The Main Action
The final stage was a fairly flat course, running from Chipping Norton to the centre of Oxford. The day started off slowly, with no attacks going immediately. They rolled through the first Queen of the Mountains, with Georgia Williams (BikeExchange) taking maximum points, Lorena Wiebes (Team DSM) in second, and Clara Copponi (FDJ Nouvelle-Aquitaine Futuroscope) in third. This solidified Elise Chabbey’s position (Canyon//SRAM); the mountains classification leader only had to finish the stage to take home the jersey. The second Queen of the Mountains was contested more by the climbers, with Kasia Niewiadoma (Canyon//SRAM) coming in first, Grace Brown (FDJ Nouvelle Aquitaine) second, and Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio (SD Worx) third.
The first intermediate sprint, 51km into the day, was hard-fought: given how close the GC was starting the day, with Grace Brown and Elisa Longo Borghini (Trek-Segafredo) on the exact same time, and Kasia Niewidoma only two seconds behind, the bonus seconds available would be crucial. Grace Brown won, gaining three seconds over Longo Borghini, with Kasia Niewiadoma picking up a second, and Audrey Cordon Ragot (Trek-Segafredo) taking two – bonus seconds for the team, but for the wrong rider.
Halfway through the stage, the racing started to get a little more lively. Laura Tomasi (UAE Team ADQ) and Henrietta Christie (Human Powered Health) tried a move, but it wouldn’t stick. A group of about twenty riders then went free, including names like Ellen van Dijk (Trek-Segafredo), Pfeiffer Georgi (Team DSM), and Clara Copponi (FDJ Nouvelle-Aquitaine Futuroscope), but were caught by the main peloton after about 10km.
Ane Iversen (Coop-Hitec Products) launched an attack; she was followed by Mieke Kroger (Human Powered Health), and Alessia Patuelli (UAE Team ADQ). Together, the trio worked up an advantage that hovered between thirty and forty seconds ahead of the peloton. Unsurprisingly, it was DSM who were leading the chase in the peloton, keeping a tight grip on proceedings. The leaders came through the second intermediate sprint alone; the GC teams were perhaps relieved that they wouldn’t have to fight for bonus seconds. Iversen won, with Kruger in second and Patuelli in third.
However, it was clear that they wouldn’t last out front for long. With 5km to go, they were swallowed up by a peloton that was rapidly preparing sprint trains; the final stages of the race were extremely flat. Trek-Segafredo were committed to Longo Borghini, who was in place at the back of their sprint train; FDJ Nouvelle-Aquitaine, on the other hand, were working for Copponi, winner of stage one. In the final strait, Longo Borghini slipped in behind Copponi, and followed her to third place, moving just ahead of Copponi’s teammate, Grace Brown. Wiebes, as she crossed the line in first place, barely celebrated, the only sign of her exertion a quick wipe of her face: it was simply business as usual, taking her tenth win of the season.
The bonus seconds for Elisa Longo Borghini’s third place pushed her just ahead of Grace Brown (FDJ Nouvelle Aquitaine), who has lead the race since the fourth stage. Kasia Niewiadoma (Canyon//SRAM) maintained her third place. Canyon//SRAM also picked up the team classification, and the mountains jersey with Elise Chabbey, with Niewiadoma just behind her in seconds. After her three stage wins, Lorena Wiebes (Team DSM) unsurprisingly took home the points jersey, while Maike Van Der Duin (Le Col-Wahoo), who dominated the intermediate sprints, took home the intermediate sprints jersey.