Late attack stays away to take stage four of the Boels Ladies Tour

Sat 7 Sep 2019

A late escape group held off the peloton to take the victory on stage four of the Boels Ladies Tour in Nijmegen.

Former race leader Annemiek van Vleuten crossed the line in the chasing pack, 45-seconds down on the winner Franziska Koch (Team Sunweb) after crosswinds played their part on the penultimate day of racing.

Crosswinds Cause Splits

Several attacks came to nothing in the early stages with a dangerous 11-riders move being shut down by Mitchelton-SCOTT, who were down to four riders with Australian Gracie Elvin not taking to the start.

But it wasn’t long but the action picked up as the wind began to blow, causing the peloton to split in half. Just 23 rider made the front split, with Van Vleuten amongst them, while Amanda Spratt and Moniek Tenniglo sat in the chase group 45-seconds behind.

The entire Trek-Segafredo team and a number of general classification hopefuls were caught out by the split and set about chasing back on. The two groups eventually came back together with 45-kilometres and as the groups merged, a counter attack was launched.

The Chase

Three riders initially broke clear before they were joined by a fourth rider on the run to the only climb of the day, the Oude Holleweg. The quartet stretched their advantage out to over two-minutes at one stage, but Tenniglo helped peg the gap back to one-minute as the leaders hit the slopes of the climb.

The steep ramps reduced the numbers in the break as well as the chasing bunch, with just three riders left at the head of the race, while a group of 30-riders including Van Vleuten set about hunting them down.

But it was too late, as the leading trio stayed away to contest the victory, with Koch outsprinting her rivals to take the stage. Meanwhile Van Vleuten crossed the line in the chasing back, 45-seconds down on the winner.

Annemiek van Vleuten:
“It was a super cold, rainy day and I kept on telling myself ‘this is good for us, this is good for us’, it’s usually in my advantage when it’s hard, it’s normally good ingredients for me. But sometimes it’s a bit unpredictable with what other teams are doing.”  

“When the attack went, there was a group of four and especially with no Canyon SRAM riders there and no Sunweb riders for the GC, it wasn’t a move that I expected would get away and get much space. So, in the end it surprised me a little bit that they gave it so much space, I think they waited a bit too long with the chase.

"Then on the Oude Holleweg the group was still away, and I think the gap was still 1’30”, so then on a climb of only one-minute, it’s not possible to jump across. I was hoping to be there together with Spratty across the top so we could attack there."

"The descent was so wet and slippy with a lot of road furniture, so me and Spratty decided to stay safe and not to risk anything, especially with the group already away. But tomorrow is a really interesting day, I know the roads really well because we start in my training area, so there’s no roads that I don’t know. I’m keen, I’m pumped, I’m super motivated for tomorrow."

Martin Vestby (Sports Director):
When that group of four got away, we had Canyon SRAM in the lead of the race, so it was more up to them to chase. It would have been good to have been represented there, but with how strong Canyon SRAM was yesterday we we’re quite confident that they would keep the gap at a good distance and shut it down. But that didn’t happen, they couldn’t, and they stayed away.”

“It was some quite hard racing today with a lot of wind and bad weather, it split a couple of times. The plan was to try something on the final climb, but then with some of the bigger teams represented in the break as well, you didn’t get the speed and the attacks on the climb we wanted.”

Boels Ladies Tour 2019 Stage 4 Results:
1. Franziska Koch (Team Sunweb) 3:14:33
2. Christine Majerus (Boels - Dolmans Cycling Team) ST
3. Riejanne Markus (CCC – Liv) +0:02
18. Annemiek van Vleuten (Mitchelton-SCOTT) +0:44

Boels Ladies Tour 2019 General Classification:
1. Christine Majerus (Boels - Dolmans Cycling Team) 13:04:51
2. Lisa Klein (Canyon SRAM) +0:30
6. Annemiek van Vleuten (Mitchelton-SCOTT) +0:42

Photos Courtesy of Getty Images.