Van Vleuten retains race lead despite crashing on stage one of the Boels Ladies TourWed 4 Sep 2019
Race leader Annemiek van Vleuten remains top of the general classification despite crashing on the opening road stage of the Boels Ladies Tour.
The world time trial champion hit the deck when several riders came down in front of her and had to chase hard to make it back to the bunch. But the defending champion made it safely through the rest of the stage to retain her lead at the top of the standings heading into stage two.
It was a fast and dramatic start to the race as Australian Sarah Roy was caught in a crash and was forced to abandon the race inside the opening 30-kilometres. Despite several crashes, the pace didn’t relent and the bunch split into three groups, with a large group of 40-riders heading the race.
However, it was all back together after the first hour of racing apart from a handful of riders who were caught at the wrong side of a level crossing. After the early drama, the peloton seemed to settle down and as the stage reached the halfway point it was still all together.
But there was more misfortune for Mitchelton-SCOTT as race leader Van Vleuten hit the floor when she was unable to avoid several riders crashing in front of her. The prologue winner was quick to get going again and made it back to the bunch but opted to sit at the back of the field, out of trouble.
With a lull in the pace, Ashleigh Moolman (CCC-Liv) attacked as the first passage of the finish line approached. The South African quickly established a 30-seconds lead around the tricky finishing circuit before upping her advantage to over 45-seconds as she passed through the finish for the second time.
Former world champion Lizzie Deignan (Trek-Segafredo) was caught between the bunch and the lone leader as she attempted to chase down Moolman, while Mitchelton-SCOTT sat tucked away in the peloton. Moolman was eventually caught as the bunch raced onto the final lap with Moniek Tenniglo and Amanda Spratt assisting with the chase.
The day looked set to end in a sprint finish, but with 1.6-kilometres to go Tenniglo jumped off the front through the twisty street on the run to the finish. But the Dutch rider couldn’t hold off the sprinters as she was caught inside the barriers, with Lorena Wiebes (Parkhotel Valkenburg) taking the win.
Annemiek van Vleuten:
“There were so many crashes today but if you have races like this when it’s not selective, everyone gets nervous, especially with a bit of wind today it was very nervous. I think for our team we can lose more on these kinds of stages, there’s not much to win without having a sprinter.”
“Roy had a crash, so hopefully she’s ok. There were so many more crashes and I found myself in one. Some riders crashed in front of me and I just went over the top of them, it was big pile-up, I couldn’t avoid it.
“I have a sore wrist, so I decided to just stay at the back of the peloton and get to the finish and Gracie (Elvin) was really good in helping me in the last four or five kilometres to get me safe to the finish.”
“It was a really nervous day with a lot of crashes. We wanted to race attentive and with the final in mind we would go for Sarah. But unfortunately Sarah crashed in the first part of the race. Annemiek was involved in a crash as well. Luckily and most important she seems to be okay.”
“When we entered the local lap the speed went up and there were some attacks from Moolman and Deignan. I took the opportunity and gave it a try in the last two-kilometres but I wasn't able to avoid a bunch sprint.”
Martin Vestby (Sports Director):
“Sarah is ok, she hurt her knee a little bit and banged her head, so she wasn’t good enough to continue the race, but nothing serious. Annemiek is ok, she hurt her wrist a bit, but it shouldn’t be a big problem.”
“We looked at today to be a sprint finish and we would be supporting Roy, but with Roy out it opened it up for us to be a bit more aggressive in the final and Moniek took a good chance in the final kilometres. She was caught around 400-metres to go, but with a bit more luck she could have had it.”
“Hopefully tomorrow we can get a little bit more wind with longer crosswind sections that creates some harder racing. It was sort of hard and fast today, but hopefully tomorrow can be a bit less stressful than it was today.”
Boels Ladies Tour 2019 Stage 1 Results:
1. Lorena Wiebes (Parkhotel Valkenburg) 2:59:02
2. Kirsten Wild (WNT-Rotor Pro Cycling) ST
3. Letizia Paternoster (Trek-Segafredo) ST
16. Moniek Tenniglo (Mitchelton-SCOTT) ST
Boels Ladies Tour 2019 General Classification:
1. Annemiek van Vleuten (Mitchelton-SCOTT) 3:04:06
2. Lorena Wiebes (Parkhotel Valkenburg) +0:03
3. Letizia Paternoster (Trek-Segafredo) +0:04
Photos courtesy of Getty Images.