Simac Ladies Tour stage 5: Audrey Cordon-Ragot blasts to time trial victory
French champion edges out Riejanne Markus as Lorena Wiebes retains overall lead.
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Audrey Cordon-Ragot (Trek Segafredo) won the stage 5 time trial of the Simac Ladies Tour, setting a time of 25:15 over the 17.8km course in the Netherlands.
The French national time trial champion beat stage 4 winner Riejanne Markus (Jumbo-Visma) by three seconds on the line in Watersley, whilst Amanda Spratt (BikeExchange-Jayco) finished third in 25:25.
Race leader Lorena Wiebes (Team DSM) finished fifth on the stage with a time of 25:36, enough to hold onto the leader’s jersey with one stage remaining, though Cordon-Ragot moves into second, just six seconds off the lead.
“I cannot be more happy than I am at the moment,” Cordon-Ragot said at the finish.
“I was not expecting that. I knew Riejanne would be my biggest opponent. All the girls from Jumbo are really good on time trials and really technical also, so I was like ‘OK just do your best, do what you know how to do and we will see the result’. And it ended up being the fastest time.
“I just had a plan, I followed the plan. I had what I had to do in every part of the circuit. It was really technical and I really love it. In the end I just stayed in my bubble and did what I had to do and it was the right plan today.”
“I really like when it’s technical, I really like to ride my TT bike,” she continued. “I think it’s also a really good exercise before the worlds because we know the world championships is going to be also really technical, so for me coming here in Simac was a really good preparation for the worlds. I’m really happy to be there and to end this tour the best way, winning a stage.”
Thanks to her strong effort in the ITT @CordonRagot is now 2nd in GC at #SLT2022 👊
6” behind Wiebes and 30” ahead of Swinkels
Only one stage missing to the finish of the race
— Trek-Segafredo (@TrekSegafredo) September 3, 2022
After three sprint days and a hilly challenge on Friday, stage 5 of the Simac Ladies Tour offered a rare chance for the time trialists to show their ability, one of just two individual time trials in the Women’s WorldTour calendar this season. Though set in the relatively flat roads south of Sittard, the 17.8km was not pan-flat and did have some gradual but possibly significant rises between Windraak and the Watersley sports park.
Despite being the only longer time trial on the WorldTour calendar – the other being a 4.75km TT in the Giro – the start list for Saturday’s stage was missing some of the specialists, with Ellen van Dijk (Trek-Segafredo) deciding last minute to skip the race ahead of her world championships. The likes of Marlen Reusser (SD Worx) and Joscelin Lowden (Uno-X) were also missing.
It was first-off-the-mark Eva Buurman (Liv Racing Xstra) who set the first real benchmark, stopping the clock at 26:59, some 30 seconds faster than most of the first ten starters. However, it wasn’t long before Lisa Klein (Canyon-SRAM), one of the few time trial specialists in the race, took the start and put an end to Buurman’s time in the lead. At the intermediate timing point, Klein was seven seconds down on Buurman, but had a strong second half to beat the previous fastest time, finishing in 26:21.
Klein’s time may have been expected to stand for a while, but in fact it was bettered just a few riders later by one of the youngest riders in the race, Elise Uijen (Team DSM). The former junior European time trial champion set a time of 26:11, taking 10 seconds out of Klein’s time, certainly an impressive time in the 19-year-old’s first pro-level ITT. After her effort, Uijen crashed shortly after the finish but was back on her feet quickly.
The first rider to break the 26-minute mark was Alice Barnes (Canyon-SRAM), who finished in 25:57 to take over the hotseat from Uijen, leading the standings after 28 finishers. Heading into the top-20 riders on GC, the best times started to fall significantly, with Amanda Spratt (BikeExchange-Jayco) taking over 30 seconds out of Barnes with a 25:25 finish. Julie De Wilde (Plantur Pura) then finished just three seconds down on Spratt as the early times all began to be beaten.
Stage 4 winner Riejanne Markus (Jumbo Visma) set a best time with 25:18, but needed a bigger margin to try to move up the GC after losing time on the race’s opening stage.
Most of the top-10 could not better Markus’s time, but a big effort from French national champion and third overall Audrey Cordon-Ragot (Trek Segafredo) eventually bettered the Dutch rider, setting a time of 25:15 which would prove to be the fastest of the day. With only race leader Lorena Wiebes (Team DSM) still to finish, her challenge was to retain her lead, which she did with a time of 25:36, fifth on the stage and holding onto to a six-second advantage over Cordon-Ragot, who moved up to second.
Karlijn Swinkels (Jumbo Visma) finished 7th with a time of 25:52, moving one place down to third overall. The biggest movers after the TT were Markus, Spratt, De Wilde and Ruby Roseman-Gannon (BikeExchange-Jayco), who all moved into the top-10 overall after strong against-the-clock efforts.
Big effort from @lorenawiebes who stops the clock in 25’36” – taking 5th place on the stage and holding onto the race lead 💯@EliseUijen‘s strong early ride sees her take 12th on the day as well.👍🏻
Onto tomorrow’s final stage! #KeepChallenging #SLT2022 pic.twitter.com/m3kDRnBcmo
— Team DSM (@TeamDSM) September 3, 2022
Sunday’s final stage around Arnhem will see the peloton take on seven laps of a countryside Posbank circuit, followed by five laps of a smaller circuit in Arnhem for a total of 150km of racing, the longest of the race.
Both circuits have small, one kilometer climbs on them, which whilst not particularly steep, could prove challenging when tackled repeatedly throughout the day. After winning two stages and looking strong on Friday’s hilly fourth stage, the race looks like Wiebes’s to lose, but the tricky circuits will give her competitors plenty of chances to test the Dutch rider before Sunday’s finale.
Results will be available once stage has completed.