Alison Jackson took the biggest victory of her career, winning stage one of the Simac Ladies Tour in the Netherlands.
The Liv Racing rider had instigated a three-woman break after only 20km and drove the trio to the line.
With the bunch closing in, the Canadian opened her sprint early, finishing just ahead of French rider Maëlle Grossetête (FDJ-Nouvelle Aquitaine Futuroscope), who also bagged her first WorldTour podium.
After her, Team DSM were one of the teams committing to the chase as Lorena Wiebes led the bunch home, though four seconds behind the winning pair.
Bonus seconds taken on the line and at an intermediate sprint mean Jackson has moved into the overall race lead, taking it from Marianne Vos, the Jumbo-Visma rider slipping to second place.
After the sprint teams missed out twice at last week’s four day Ladies Tour of Norway, the feeling was there was no way they could make the same mistake again. They reckoned with Jackson though. The 32 year-old has shown excellent form this year and constantly animates races.
The leading trio seemed doomed though, their lead less than a minute before the 10km to go marker, by which time they were down to two, however, Jackson and Grossetête never gave up and reaped the reward.
How it happened
Organisers would have been hoping world road and time trial champion Anna van der Breggen was riding the event this year as the SDWorx rider grew up in the start town of Zwolle. However, her absence was unlikely to diminish the spectacle the 134.8km race to Hardenberg unlikely to suit the 31 year-old, though she was present in the team car, previewing her new role as sports director.
As one might expect for the race’s location in the centre of the Netherlands, the parcours was almost completely flat, a single climb to the highest point, 39m above sea level coming after 57km.
With around 20km behind them Canadian, Alison Jackson (Liv Racing) got away on her own. The points competition winner at the recent Ladies Tour of Norway was soon joined by Nina Buysman (Parkhotel Valkenburg), queen of the mountains at that same race, and Maëlle Grossetête (FDJ-Nouvelle Aquitaine Futuroscope), the trio building a lead of of 2-30 after 50km.
However, as the race approached the finish town to cross the line at the start of a 43.6km circuit, that advantage had begun to reduce. Then, before the peloton reached the line, and with the gap below 1-30 Sanne Bouwmeester (GT Krush Tunap) headed off the front in pursuit of the leaders.
Oddly, as the kilometres ticked by the peloton allowed the gap to go out again, though they remained in control, Valcar Travel and Service and DSM sharing the work when Bouwmeester was brought back with 30km remaining.
With 20km to the task of bringing the leaders back was proving a tough one, the gap staying stubbornly high and it was only when Movistar and Canyon-SRAM added their strength did it begin to come down.
After the gap dropped below one minute for the first time, Buysman was dropped, and with one fewer rider the breakaway’s fate seemed sealed, especially with only 20 second lead at the flamme rouge with just one kilometre to go.
For stage two we have a second time trial, where we may see the general classification decided. Once again the 17km course from Gennep to Siebengewald, right on the German border, and back is completely flat and is one for the specialists.
Result Simac Ladies Tour, stage one: Zwolle - Hardenberg (134.8km)
1. Alison Jackson (Can) Liv Racing in 3-18-20
2. Maëlle Grossetête (Fra) FDJ-Nouvelle Aquitaine Futuroscope at same time
3. Lorena Wiebes (Ned) DSM at 04 sec
4. Marianne Vos (Ned) Jumbo-Visma
5. Charlotte Kool (Ned) NXTG Racing
6. Barbara Guarischi (Ita) Movistar
7. Emma Norsgaard (Den) Movistar
8. Elisa Balsamo (Ita) Valcar Travel and Service
9. Marta Bastianelli (Ita) Alé-BTC Ljubljana
10. Lonneke Uneken (Ned) SDWorx all at same time
General classification after stage one
1. Alison Jackson (Can) Liv Racing in 3-21-25
2. Marianne Vos (Ned) Jumbo-Visma at same time
3. Lorena Wiebes (Ned) DSM at 03 sec
4. Ellen van Dijk (Ned) Trek-Segafredo at 05 sec
5. Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig (Den) FDJ-Nouvelle Aquitaine Futuroscope at 06 sec
6. Lonneke Uneken (Ned) SDWorx at same time
7. Christine Majerus (Lux) SDWorx at 07 sec
8. Maëlle Grossetête (Fra) FDJ-Nouvelle Aquitaine Futuroscope at 08 sec
9. Elisa Balsamo (Ita) Valcar Travel and Service
10. Lisa Klein (Ger) Canyon-SRAM all at same time
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