Van Vleuten retains the race lead after another sprint stage at the Boels Ladies TourFri 31 Aug 2018
The fourth stage of the Boels Ladies Tour concluded with another bunch sprint despite some late attacks and Amalie Dideriksen (Boels-Dolmans) taking the stage victory with two-time stage winner Annemiek van Vleuten retaining her overall race lead.
Two-time Giro-Rosa stage winner Jolien D'hoore was the highest finisher for Mitchelton-SCOTT in 14th place and Van Vleuten now heads into tomorrow's penultimate stage with a 22second advantage over second place on the general classification.
In the opening 10km of the fourth stage one rider, Omer Shapira (Cylance) attacked away from the peloton and was quickly able to gain a one minute advantage. Riders tried to bridge across but all other attempts where immediately brought back and the lone leader was given the freedom to extend her lead even further.
The peloton saw no threat in the move and as she entered the final 50km Shapira gained a maximum advantage of three minutes and 50seconds, the largest breakaway gap so far in the tour.
As the solo leader completed the first local finishing laps, two riders, Lisa Brennauer (Wiggle-High5) and Amy Pieters (Boels-Dolmans) attacked and successfully bridged across as they passed the finish line with two laps remaining.
Pieters attacked again and lead the race solo into the final lap but as a potential threat to the overall, Mitchelton-SCOTT's Amanda Spratt saw the danger and sat at the front of the bunch working to reel Pieters back in.
With one kilometre to go, Pieters was finally caught and the sprint opened up. Mitchelton-SCOTT worked to keep Jolien D'hoore and van Vleuten towards the front and in a safe position. Dideriksen took another sprint victory ahead and van Vleuten retained her race lead with one more road stage and one time trial stage to come.
"Today was actually a lot easier than we had expected, a solo rider from Cylance went up the road but with her being over four minutes down on the GC it was no concern for us. We expected other teams may try something in the crosswind but in the end nothing eventuated so it was very easy until we hit the final circuits.
"Pieters is close on GC and the combination of Brennauer with Pieters was definitely a threatening situation so we wanted to work to bring it back. Maybe we started a bit too early with the chase but it was a bit of a gamble as they are two strong riders. When Pieters went alone then we were thinking about bringing it back so Jolien D'hoore could go for the sprint. I had help from Canyon-SRAM and in the final couple of kilometres she was caught.
"Jolien tried to set herself up the sprint with the help of Annemiek but unfortunately she was swamped in the corners with one kilometre to go and had to start her sprint from too far back.
"Tomorrow will be a hard day with many small climbs. It will be unrelenting and we expect the other teams to race aggressively to put pressure on us. So far we have raced well and I am confident with our team that if we stick to our plan and stay calm then we can have a very good outcome."
Boels Ladies Tour stage 4 results:
1. Amalie Dideriksen (Boels-Dolmans) 3:28
2. Lucinda Brand (Sunweb) ST
3. Lorena Wiebes (Parkhotel) ST
14. Jolien D'hoore (Mitchelton-SCOTT) ST
General classification stage 4:
1. Annemiek van Vleuten (Mitchelton-SCOTT) 9:59
2. Lucinda Brand (Sunweb) +0:22
3. Eugenia Bujak (BTC City) +0:30
Photos courtesy of Getty Images