It was a second victory from a solo attack in the Ladies’ Tour of Norway, with Riejanne Markus (Team Jumbo-Visma) hanging on as the peloton failed to catch her at the very last moment, in similar scenes to Kristen Faulkner’s victory yesterday. Coryn Rivera (Team DSM) took second, and Alison Jackson (Team LIV) took third.
The stage was a typically undulating 145km, setting off from Askim, the site of the final battle between Norway and Sweden in 1814. Anna Henderson (Team Jumbo-Visma), leader in the absence of Marianne Vos, didn’t start, after going down in a crash yesterday.
The peloton stuck together early on, up to the first intermediate sprint, which marked the first of three times past the finishing line in Mysen. The winner of yesterday’s stage and wearer of the yellow jersey, Kristen Faulkner (Team TIBCO-Silicon Valley Bank) took maximum points. She was followed by Alison Jackson (LIV Racing), Christine Majerus (Team SD Worx) and Susanne Andersen (Team DSM).
Sabrina Stultiens (LIV Racing) attempted an attack at 90km, but was quickly caught. Audrey Cordon Ragot (Trek-Segafredo) and Aude Biannic (Team Movistar) attacked at 93km, with the two French women working together and managing to pull out a lead of nearly two minutes. However, as they snaked through the tall pines of the Østfold region, the peloton kept it under control, with Team TIBCO-Silicon Valley Bank riding to defend Faulkner’s yellow jersey.
The day’s only categorized ascent was at Amundrød, a 1.2 km long ascent with a 5.3% incline, relatively late in the stage at 84.7km. Biannic and Cordon Ragot took first and second places respectively, but weren’t particularly interested in sprinting against each other for the points. By this point, their lead was down to a minute and twenty. There was fiercer fighting in the peloton for the minor places: Nina Buijsman attacked for two points and to secure her Queen of the Mountains jersey, and the twenty-year old Tiril Jorgensen, from the Norwegian National Team, took one.
Riejanne Markus (Team Jumbo Visma) attacked, quickly reaching the breakaway, after all of Team Jumbo-Visma had come to the front of the peloton and pushed forward, making life hard for a group that had dropped off the back after the ascent. There were then repeated attempts to split the peloton, with all of Team DSM coming forward, stringing the rest of the peloton out along the road and rapidly reducing the gap to the breakaway.
They looped back around to pass Skjønhaug for a second time, this time for a second intermediate sprint. The breakaway took all the points: Riejanne Markus (Jumbo-Visma) first, Audrey Cordon-Ragot (Trek-Segafredo) second, and Aude Biannic (Movistar) third.
Biannic and Cordon-Ragot were caught shortly afterwards, but Riejanne Markus stayed out on her own and stretched out a lead of a minute. She was tucked into an aero position with intense focus as light rain began to fall. She made it to the second crossing of the finish line at Mysen alone, with a gap of about fifty seconds. The final loop began with a sudden sharp ascent, the peloton thinning out and breaking up as they chased Markus, fractured by the efforts of Team DSM and Canyon / Sram Racing.
Riejanne Markus’ head was tucked down, her body folded in, and her face betrayed nothing. She came out of her saddle for a final climb, 150m from the finish – by now, the third time round, familiar – as the sprinters made a final attempt to reach her. She only looked back and covered her mouth with her hand as she crossed the line, seeing the rest of the peloton mere metres behind her.
Speaking to Eurosport, and overcome with emotion, she said, “It’s my first win on the World Tour, I don’t get so many opportunities…it’s really cool…I had it once before, that I was caught 20 metres before the finish line, so I was really scared to celebrate before, and I was just trying to close my eyes and make it to the finish line. I’m so happy I made it… I was waiting for a win for a couple of years, so yeah, very happy.”