Jolien D’hoore takes Women’s Tour lead as she avoids late crashes to win chaotic bunch sprint

Belgian champion bounces back after recent collarbone fracture

Belgian champion Jolien D’hoore won the opening stage of the OVO Energy Women’s Tour after a chaotic bunch sprint in Suffolk today. The Mitchelton-Scott rider was fastest in the uphill, headwind sprint in Southwold, beating Marta Bastianelli (Alé-Cipollini) and Coryn Rivera (Team Sunweb), after a chaotic final.

While the bunch finish was expected, it capped off a strangely passive race, where the main teams were riding for sprint. That meant most of the peloton came to the final’s narrow roads and technical coastal lanes feeling fresh, adding to the chaos.

One of the pre-stage favourites, Wiggle-High5’s Kirsten Wild, was unable to contest the final having been one of a number of riders taken out of contention by a series of late crashes. The Dutch rider finished with two more of her team-mates, including in-form Lisa Brennauer, who also went down late in the day.

How it happened

The benign opening portion of the 129.7km stage between Framlingham and Southwold set the mood for the day, the peloton happy to roll through the Suffolk countryside. Only as they approached Ipswich and the first classified climb of the day in Christchurch Park after 27.5km, did the pace lift.

Christine Majerus (Boels-Dolmans), who won the race’s opening stage in East Anglia in 2016, rolled over the top of the climb first, the peloton re-forming as they rode out of town.

Indeed the peloton continued to ride as one through he first of two intermediate sprints at Needham Market, where Sunweb’s Coryn Rivera took the three bonus seconds.

Only after the second sprint in the start town of Framlingham, won by Amy Pieters (Boels-Dolmans), did the pace lift, the bunch stretching into one long line. However, still no break was able to get away and it was only with 40km to go that a small group managed to get clear, though not for long as the sprinter’s teams worked for the bunch finish in Southwold.

Finally, with 26km to go, Susanne Andersen (Hitec Products) managed to get a lead of 20 seconds on the peloton. The bunch were clearly unhappy with the Norwegian rider’s lead and, as if sprung from their reverie, upped the pace. First they brought the lead down to ten seconds, holding it there, before finally taking her back into the bunch.

The peloton were still together as they entered the final few kilometres and with 102 riders fighting for position on the narrow lanes, then the technical seaside town final, crashes were inevitable.

D’hoore’s success comes in her first race after breaking right collarbone in a track event just three weeks ago. It also sees her Mitchelton-Scott team extend a winning streak which saw them win the previous Women’s WorldTour race in Spain in mid-May, and number of lower ranked races since.

Not only does D’hoore’s victory see her take the blue leader’s jersey, she also takes back to back wins in the race, after winning the final stage of last year’s event in London.

Tomorrow’s 143.9km stage between Rushden and Daventry in Northamptonshire finishes with a short but very tough climb and may be one for the puncheurs rather than pure sprinters like D’hoore.

Results

OVO Energy Women’s Tour 2018, Stage one: Framlingham to Southwold, 130km

1. Jolien D’hoore (Bel) Mitchelton Scott, in 3-14-39
2. Marta Bastianelli (Ita) Alé-Cipollini
3. Coryn Rivera (USA) Team Sunweb
4. Giorgia Bronzini (Ita) Cylance
5. Amalie Dideriksen (Den) Boels-Dolmans
6. Marianne Vos (Ned) Waowdeals
7. Roxanne Fournier (Fra) FDJ Nouvelle Aquitaine Futuroscope
8. Kirsten Wild (Ned) Wiggle-High5
9. Hannah Barnes (Gbr) Canyon-SRAM
10. Barbara Guarischi (Ita) Virtu, all at same time

General classification after stage one

1. Jolien D’hoore (Bel) Mitchelton-Scott in 3-14-29
2. Coryn Rivera (USA) Sunweb at 02 seconds
3. Marta Bastianelli (Ita) Alé-Cipollini at 04seconds
4. Amy Pieters (Ned) Boels-Dolmans at 05seconds
5. Dani Rowe (Gbr) Waowdeals at 08seconds
6. Chloe Hosking (Aus) Als-Cipollini at 10 seconds
7. Giorgia Bronzini (Ita) Cyclance
8. Amalie Dideriksen (Den) Boels-Dolmans
9. Marianne Vos (Ned) Waowdeals
10. Roxanne Fournier (Fra) all at same time

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