Emma Johansson sprinted to fourth in the Molecantan Drentse 8 bunch kick. With Chantal Blaak (Specialized-lululemon) soloing to victory a handful of seconds ahead of the field, Johansson’s result slotted her into fifth on the stage. Although ORICA-AIS missed out on a top three finish, the Australian outfit enjoyed time on the podium courtesy of cobbled queen Loes Guennwijk who won “de keientrui” – the cobbled jersey.
Gunnewijk was part of a six rider move that contained Amy Pieters (Giant Shimano), Floortje Mackaij (Giant Shimano), Tiffany Cromwell (Specialized-lululmeon), Anna van der Breggen (Rabo-Liv) and Janneke Ensing (Boels Dolmans). The group took shape after the cobbles had done their damage, and although the six worked well together, they were never allowed to stretch their advantage beyond the minute mark.
Having missed out on the move, Ale Cipollini took control of the chase. Just inside the final of five laps, the peloton had overtaken the break. Immediately, Gracie Elvin countered the catch. Annemiek van Vleuten jumped on her wheel. The peloton would not allow such a strong move any space and immediately reeled in the duo.
Inside the final five kilometres, Blaak slipped off the front. While she never gained more than ten seconds, her advantage was enough to evade the peloton. Blaak soloed to victory. Lucy Garner (Giant-Shimano) outkicked Lizzie Armitstead (Boels-Dolmans) in the field sprint for second.
“There was really tight right-hand corner with less than 200 metres to go. The corner was on cobbles and downhill. Emma was toward the front of the group heading into the corner. We knew the first out of that corner was going to win it. Emma tried her hardest to get in there first, but she was fourth in and fourth out – and that’s how she finished up. It was a really stressful race. We’re happy to come through unscathed so that we can line up with a full strong team on Saturday.” - Sport Director Gene Bates