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Tour of Scandinavia stage 4: Alex Manly wins from late break in aggressive day out

Six rider group holds off bunch to crack Marianne Vos’s winning streak.

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Alex Manly (BikeExchange-Jayco) sprinted to victory on stage 4 of the Tour of Scandinavia after forming part of the six-rider group that contested the finish.

The Australian beat Chloe Hosking (Trek-Segafredo) and Laura Tomasi (UAE Team ADQ) on the line to take the win in Mysen.

After initially attacking with Alice Barnes (Canyon-SRAM) in the last 10km of the stage, the duo were joined by Hosking, Neve Bradbury (Canyon-SRAM), Anouska Koster (Jumbo Visma), and Tomasi in the final three kilometers and just managed to hold off the charging bunch in the final straight of the stage.
This is Manly’s first win at WorldTour level after dominating the Lotto Thüringen Ladies Tour in May and coming close on several occasions at the Women’s Tour.

“[It feels] a bit surreal to be honest,” Manly said at the finish. “I’ve been trying to do this sprint all year and keep making mistakes. Today it wasn’t the plan to do what I did, but the moment was just there, and I couldn’t not take it. Thanks to these girls, everybody worked so hard today. We really wanted to make it an aggressive race but when the attacks kicked off we were quite tired, so then at the end it opened up again because we’d made it hard in the middle. I’m really glad to pull it off because these girls have been working really hard for me for a really long time now.”

“That was all on instinct. It wasn’t really part of the plan but it was just breaking up and I felt good. I thought I’d take a lesson from Luke Plapp: when you feel good, you go… I’m really lucky that the group split through the roundabout, so we had a few more riders come across to that. Because before that we were just hanging with two and I didn’t think we were going to make it but then when the girls came across it was really good.”

Marianne Vos retained the overall race lead going into the queen stage. Pre-race favorite Demi Vollering was caught up in a crash in the closing kilometers of the stage and lost five minutes to the leaders. She was checked over by medical staff at the finish and is in doubt for stage 5.

How it happened

It was a relatively relaxed start to the stage leaving Askim, with few attempts at a breakaway in the first 20km before the first climb. Sophie Wright (UAE Team ADQ) was briefly off the front on her own but was brought back before the first climb, where Amber Kraak (Jumbo Visma) once again took maximum points to tighten her grip on the mountains jersey.

Alison Jackson (Liv Xstra Racing) claimed the points at the first sprint and her Liv team then took the chance to assemble at the front of the peloton and drive the pace with all six riders. It proved to be the catalyst for the next injection of aggression in the peloton. Repeated attacks and small groups went off the front, but again it was difficult for anyone to get away.

Going into the final 60km, Femke Markus (Parkhotel Valkenburg) got a gap and stretched out a 30-second lead but there was still a lot of activity in the bunch. After just 10km, Markus was caught as the attacks and high pace continued in the peloton behind.

With another sprint-friendly finish looming in Mysen, it was clear many teams were trying to get the better of — or at least tire out — Marianne Vos and her Jumbo Visma team, and attacks just kept coming.

Over the top of the climb, a crash on the descent took down a handful of riders but at the front of the race, it was BikeExchange-Jayco who were forcing the pace and closing the gap to the leaders.

After all of Liv’s efforts during the stage, Valerie Demey was able to get away in the final 30km and was soon joined by Nicole Steigenga (Coop Hitec Products). A lull in the peloton allowed their lead to approach a minute, but the bunch soon reacted when an attack led by Niamh Fisher-Black (SD Worx) saw a handful of riders go off the front.

Despite the strength of the move, the peloton had regrouped going into the final 20km and the leading pair was in its sights. A big acceleration from Liane Lippert (Team DSM) spelled the end for the latest break attempt. The German’s repeated efforts saw the bunch significantly strung out heading towards Mysen.

The attacks were unrelenting going into the final 10km, with Trek-Segafredo particularly aggressive, but it was Thursday’s late attacker Alice Barnes (Canyon-SRAM) who managed to snap the elastic, and only Manly was able to follow her.

Trying to bring it back for another sprint finish, Jumbo-Visma was working hard on the front of the bunch. However, instead of making the catch, Anouska Koster (Jumbo-Visma) helped drag a small group across to the leaders in the last 3km, taking with her Hosking, Tomasi, and Neve Bradbury (Canyon-SRAM).

Now a group of six, the leaders still had only a slender advantage heading towards the finish, but they were pushing hard to stay away going into the final kilometer. With less than 300m to go, the bunch almost made contact with the back of the break but Manly opened up her sprint with enough power to come around Hosking and take the win in Mysen. Tomasi took third to deny Barnes a podium spot, and Vos’ acceleration in the final sprint earnt her sixth.

Not losing any time in the end, Vos remains the leader on the GC despite losing her winning streak today. There were no changes in the other jerseys, with Jackson, Kraak, and Shari Bossuyt (Canyon-SRAM) holding on to the sprints, mountains, and young rider classifications respectively.

Tomorrow, the GC action is expected to kick off with the only summit finish of the race coming at the end of stage 5. It’s a somewhat bumpy route from Vikersund to Noresund, and then the road ramps up for the 11.1km, 8.8 percent average climb to Norefjell. The climb peaks out at 791m but should be hard enough to shake up the overall standings and see a new yellow jersey awarded.

Results will be available once stage has completed.

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