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Women’s Tour: Lorena Wiebes storms to stage 2 sprint victory

Clara Copponi keeps hold of race lead for another day.

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Lorena Wiebes (Team DSM) bounced back from a crash on the opening day to take a definitive victory on stage 2 of the Women’s Tour.

Wiebes pulled out a huge gap on the others in the final sprint to the line in Harlow following a pitch perfect leadout from teammate Charlotte Kool.

Movistar’s Barbara Guarischi was in the wheel of Wiebes when the Dutch rider launched her sprint but was no match for her as the void between them opened to three or four bike lengths. She held on for second while Shari Bossuyt (Canyon-SRAM) sprinted for third.

Also read: Get to know the fastest woman on two wheels

“Today was not a really hard stage and there was quite a good speed in the bunch,” Wiebes said at the finish. “We had no problems today, we were good together in the front at the intermediate sprints and over the QOMs. At six kilometres to go there was a crash and only Franzi [Koch] and I were in the small peloton after it but luckily Megan [jastrab] and Charlotte came back.

“We were a bit stuck in the middle of the road before the sprint so I found my own way out a bit and in the last straight the girls found me again and we did a really nice lead out; they set me up perfectly. We can be super proud of ourselves and we’re looking forward to the next stages now.”

Race leader and stage 1 winner Clara Copponi (FDJ Nouvelle-Aquitaine Futuroscope) finished in sixth but held onto her slim lead in the overall classification.

A crash inside the final seven kilometers split up the peloton and saw several riders land in the grass on the side of the road, including pre-race favorite Veronia Ewers.

While many regained contact with the peloton, Ewers was in a group that finished 32 seconds behind Wiebes. Chantal van den Broek-Blaak (SD Worx) also lost time following the incident, finishing 23 seconds back.

How it happened

Following a challenging opening stage with rain-slicked roads causing crashes in the final kilometer, the Women’s Tour peloton was greeted by warm sunshine for the second stage. Beginning and finishing in Harlow, the 92.1km stage was to be the shortest of the whole race.

Though there were two third category climbs inside the final 25 kilometers of the stage, they would not be challenging enough to shell the big sprinters before the finish line.

With such a short stage, the peloton was very reluctant to let a group of any size go away and race would stay together for quite some time. It wasn’t until both of the intermediate sprints were dealt with, both of which offered bonus seconds, that a break would be allowed up the road.

Maike van der Duin (Le Col-Wahoo) took the first intermediate sprint ahead of Elena Cecchini (SD Worx) and Copponi. Meanwhile, Copponi took the second ahead of Van der Duin and Sofia Bertizzolo (UAE Team Emirates).

The result of it was that Van der Duin jumped into second overall, ahead of Bertizzolo, and took one second out of Copponi in the overall standings. The battle for bonus seconds looks set to rage on throughout the race and could be key in deciding the final winner.

Once that was sorted, a solo break got up the road with Sammie Stuart (CAMS-Basso) getting a small lead on the bunch. A firefighter in her day job, Stuart got the call up to CAMS-Basso at the end of May after taking two victories in the Tour Series last month.

Stuart built up a lead of over 1:00 before being brought back by the peloton. Gladys Verhulst (Le Col Wahoo) and American rider Lily Williams (Human Powered Health) were the next to go off the front. The duo held on into the final 10 kilometers, only to be caught on the outskirts of Harlow.

In the end, the sprint finish wasn’t in doubt and Wiebes wasn’t going to miss another opportunity at victory, striking out with just 200 meters to go and leaving everyone else in her wake.

Results will be available once stage has completed.

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