Lorena Wiebes stamped her authority of the Women’s Tour on Wednesday, taking a second consecutive sprint victory, this time in Gloucester.
The Dutch sprint superstar was perfectly led out by the British champion, Pfeiffer Georgi racing on local roads leading the race for around 600m before her mate opened her sprint. Once again Wiebes was imperious, winning by a decent margin despite a long, uphill sprint.
In form Australian Alex Manly (BikeExchange-Jayco) finished second, while Coryn Labecki took third place for Jumbo-Visma.
The win was Wiebes’s 10th of the season, her sixth in the UK, counting the general classification at Ride London, and she has won fourth victory of the last six Women’s Tour stages, after winning two stages in 2021.
Wiebes’s victory takes her to the top of the general classification with three stages to go. Sofia Bertizzolo (UAE Team ADQ) has crept into second place, 13 seconds down. However, Thursday’s fourth stage may prove too much for both Wiebes and Bertizzolo, with more tough terrain than on the opening three days.
Indeed stage four could prove decisive for the general classification, some predicting more so than Saturday’s mountain top finish. The 114.7km stage begins in the North Wales city of Wrexham before flirting with the Cambrian Mountains and finishing in Welshpool.
How it happened
After two flat days the Women’s Tour headed for the hills for day three, to Gloucestershire, for a first ever visit to the county in the race’s eighth edition.
While the race began win the relative flat lands of Tewkesbury and finished just down the road by Gloucester’s docks, the middle part of the 107.9km stage dealt up some challenging terrain, heading as it did to the Forest of Dean.
Unlike the previous two days it didn’t take too long for a break to go, Riejanne Markus (Jumbo-Visma) heading away. She was pursued briefly but Trek-Segafredo’s sprinter, Chloe Hosking, but the Australian was unable get on terms, and the Dutch rider had a lead of 1-40 with 35km done, the climbing beginning.
As some drifted off the back as soon as that first climb started, Markus’s advantage was down to 40 seconds and two set off in pursuit. Starting the day as the Queen of the Mountains, Christine Majerus (SDWorx) took her nearest challenger, Gladys Verhulst (Le Col-Wahoo) with her, eventually catching the leader, forming a leading trio with a lead of one minute half way through the day.
With 27km to go, at the bottom of Speech House, the day’s final classified climb, the gap was only one minute Verhulst was dropped, leaving Majerus to take the points at the top, though by then the gap was only 20 seconds on a peloton eroded by the gradient.
On a subsequent, steep dig, Canyon-SRAM’s Kasia Niewiadoma launched one of her trademark savage attacks, catching the leaders almost instantly, and making a selection of around 15 women. That group thinned further on the descent, Elisa Longo Borghini (Trek-Segafredo) putting the pressure on, but then regrouped.
With around 15km to go this group began to attack each other, BikeExchange-Jayco’s Kristen Faulkner heading up the road more than once, but this meant the pace fluctuated and was not enough to hold off a large chasing peloton. With eight kilometres to go a large group of around 30 re-formed and a bunch sprint looked likely.
BikeExchange-Jayco were far from done though, with Georgia Williams now present they set about leading out Alex Manly, and with Canyon-SRAM working for Shari Bossuyt on the other side of the road two trains formed. But as they passed under the flamme rouge Pfeiffer Georgi came to the front and the race was decided.
Result Women’s Tour, stage three: Tewkesbury - Gloucester (107.9km)
1. Lorena Wiebes (Ned) DSM in 2-51-27
2. Alex Manley (Aus) BikeExchange-Jayco
3. Coryn Labecki (USA) Jumbo-Visma
4. Shari Bossuyt (Bel) Canyon-SRAM
5. Elisa Longo Borghini (Ita) Trek-Segafredo
6. Maria Giulia Confalonieri (Ita) Ceratizit-WNT
7. Eugénie Duval (Fra) FDJ-Nouvelle Aquitaine Futuroscope
8. Tereza Neumanova (Cze) Liv-Xstra
9. Ingvild Gåskjenn (Nor) Coop-Hitec Products
10. Letizia Borghesi (Ita) EF Education-Tibco-SVB all at same time
General classification after stage three
1. Lorena Wiebes (Ned) DSM in 8-50-27
2. Sofia Bertizzolo (Ita) UAE Team ADQ at 13 sec
3. Alex Manly (Aus) BikeExchange-Jayco at same time
4. Elena Cecchini (Ita) SDWorx at 14 sec
5. Shari Bossuyt (Bel) Canyon-SRAM at 16 sec
6. Coryn Labecki (USA) Juimbo-Visma at same time
7. Elise Chabbey (Sui) Canyon-SRAM at 17 sec
8. Maria Giulia Confalonieri (Ita) Ceratizit-WNT at 18 sec
9. Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio (RSA) SDWorx
10. Christine Majerus (Lux) SDWorx all at same time
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