Lorena Wiebes won her 11th race of the year, taking stage four of the AJ Bell Women’s Tour in Southend on Thursday.
Despite losing her DSM sprint train in the closing kilometres, the former Dutch road champion surfed the wheels to cross the line ahead of Italian Chiara Consonni (Valcar Travel and Service) and Chloe Hosking (Trek-Segafredo) in the bunch dash for the line.
The spectacle was slightly reduced as the wind of recent days dropped, and the peloton were faced with a largely flat day, with nothing to break the race up.
After a late climb into Rayleigh the pace lifted significantly, and what had been a fast but mainly benign day, the closing kilometres were chaotic. The wide roads leading back to the Essex seaside resort allowed many teams to move their sprinters into place, causing an increase in speed as the peloton seethed.
Demi Vollering had little trouble retaining her overall lead, her SDWorx team helped by those squads dead set on a sprint finish, who ensured the pace was too high for any breakaway to stay away.
How it happened
After a long transfer from Warwickshire the Women’s Tour reconvened in seaside Essex town of Shoeburyness, the peloton set to take on a flat, 117.8km stage to the nearby town of Southend-On-Sea.
Consisting of two loops the peloton first headed north then west through South Woodham Ferrers where they headed east for a loop around the notoriously windy Dengie Marshes, before riding back to Southend via South Woodham Ferrers again.
The race was active from moment the flag dropped, but try as they might no one was able to gain any advantage on the peloton and the race settled, any efforts immediately brought to heel.
Only with 42km did anyone make any headway, Janneke Ensing (BikeExchange) getting a lead of 25 seconds before the peloton reacted, looking close the gap for the day’s first intermediate sprint.
And sure enough, with the points safely secured, Ensing sat up and was caught. Shortly afterwards Movistar rider Lourdes Oyarbide attacked the bunch gaining 35 seconds, before being chased by Anna Christian (Drops-Le Col.)
Christian’s team-mate, Joss Lowden was a GC threat, and the Manx rider was chased down by the bunch, though Oyarbide was left dangling half a minute ahead of the peloton for a while until she realised discretion was the better part of valour and sat up.
From there though the pace remained high and the peloton remained fairly calm. Even on the short shape climb of Hambro Hill in Rayleigh there were no attacks, and only over the top did the pace lift, with a number of teams making it hard.
It was here on the wide roads back to Southend that the day’s real fight took place.
The penultimate stage is similar to day five. This time though they begin in Colchester heading south through the finish in Clacton-On-Sea before an anticlockwise loop around the coastal flatlands.
AJ Bell Women’s Tour, stage four: Shoeburyness - Southend-On-Sea (117.8km)
1. Lorena Wiebes (Ned) DSM, in 2-54-43
2. Chiara Consonni (Ita) Valcar Travel and Service
3. Chloe Hosking (Aus) Trek-Segafredo
4. Sheyla Gutiérrez (Esp) Movistar
5. Marjolein Van ’t Geloof (Ned) Drops-Le Col
6. Sofia Bertizzolo (Ita) Liv Racing
7. Sarah Roy (Aus) BikeExchange
8. Alice Barnes (Gbr) Canyon-SRAM
9. Marta Bastianelli (Ita) Alé-BTC Ljubljana
10. Amy Pieters (Ned) SDWorx, all at same time
General classification after stage four
1. Demi Vollering (Ned) SDWorx, in 9-40-44
2. Juliette Labous (Fra) DSM, at 1-09
3. Clara Copponi (Fra) FDJ-Nouvelle Aquitaine Futuroscope, at 1-19
4. Amy Pieters (Ned) SDWorx, at 1-20
5. Aude Biannic (Fra) Movistar, at 1-33
6. Leah Kirchmann (Can) DSM, at 1-46
7. Joss Lowden (Gbr) Drops-Le Col, at 1-47
8. Alice Barnes (Gbr) Canyon-SRAM, at 1-51
9. Chantal van den Broek-Blaak (Ned) SDWorx, at 1-52
10. Pfeiffer Georgi (Gbr) DSM, at 1-53
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Owen Rogers is an experienced journalist, covering professional cycling and specialising in women's road racing. He has followed races such as the Women's Tour and Giro d'Italia Donne, live-tweeting from Women's WorldTour events as well as providing race reports, interviews, analysis and news stories. He has also worked for race teams, to provide post race reports and communications.
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