Boels-Dolmans took their first victory of the Emakumeen Bira, Amy Pieters winning from an 11-woman breakaway in Aretxabaleta today. The Dutch rider out sprinted Emilia Fahlin (Wiggle-High5) and German rider Clara Koppenburg (Cervélo-Bigla) after a wet stage in the Basque mountains.
The result caused a shake up in the general classification going into tomorrow’s final, queen stage, with New Zealand champion Georgia Williams (Mitchelton-Scott), at one stage the virtual leader on the road, moving into second place behind team mate Annemiek van Vleuten.
Williams had been the virtual leader on the road, however, in the closing kilometres the bunch managed to close a four minute gap, finishing the day just over two minutes down.
How it happened
With thunder echoing around the rain sodden valleys, the race began at high speed as the leaders’s teams ensured they were able to contest the first bonus sprint after 27.5km of the 114.5km stage. Second overall at the start of the day, Anna van der Breggen (Boels-Dolmans) bagged the three seconds bonus there, closing the gap to 12 seconds on Annemiek van Vleuten (Mitchelton-Scott), who scored only one extra second.
On the first of three classified climbs, and it’s narrow dangerous descent, the peloton began to be eroded, with only about 20 riders surviving to contest the second ascent less than 10km later.
With the the ensuing descent out of the way, and with just 44km of the 114.5km remaining, a group of 10 riders broke clear of the peloton, after the final bonus sprint in the start and finish town of Aretxabaleta.
Paulina Rooijakkers, Anouska Koster (both Waowdeals), Emelia Fahlin (Wiggle-High5), Ana Santesteban, Amy Pieters (Boels-Dolmans), Alicia González (Movistar), Maria Novolodskaya (Cogeas-Mettler), Clara Kopenburg (Cervélo-Bigla), Demi De Jong (Lotto-Soudal) and Williams, the latter the best placed on general classification.
With so many teams represented, the bunch instantly sat up and the gap went out to four minutes, though as it did so Rooijakkers, the second best placed of the break, attacked, soon gaining a lead of 30 seconds.
With the final classified climb dealt with, the Dutch rider’s lead went out to 50 seconds, as the now passive peloton’s deficit extended to over four minutes.
Rooijakkers was able to cope well with the final classified climb and the subsequent, steeper undulations, but could not deal with the descents, and was finally caught with just four kilometres to go.
Tomorrow will likely see more action in what is the 120km, queen stage. Starting and finishing in Iurreta, like the other days it features three classified climbs, though the only first category ascent of the week, is likely to be decisive.
Six kilometres at an average of 9%, the climb to Urkiola will see fireworks as the likes of Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio (Cervélo-Bigla) and van der Breggen try to make up the slim deficit on van Vleuten’s lead.
Emakumeen Bira 2018, stage three: Aretxabaleta - Aretxabaleta (114.5km)
1. Amy Pieters (Ned) Boels-Dolmans in 3-02-00
2. Emilia Fahlin (Swe) Wiggle-High5
3. Clara Koppenburg (Ger) Cervélo-Bigla
4. Ane Santesteban (Esp) Alé-Cipollini
5. Mariia Novolodskaya (Rus) Cogeas–Mettler
6. Alicia González (Esp) Movistar
7. Demi De Jong (Ned) Lotto Soudal, all at same time
8. Pauliena Rooijakkers (Ned) Waowdeals, at 4s
9. Georgia Williams (NZ) Mitchelton-Scott, at same time
10. Anouska Koster (Ned) Waowdeals, at 1-01
General classification after stage three
1. Annemiek van Vleuten (Ned) Mitchelton-Scott, in 6-29-38
2.Georgia Williams (NZ) Mitchlto-Scott, at 3s
3. Anna van der Breggen (Ned) Boels-Dolmans, at 12s
4. Clara Koppenburg (Ger) Cervélo-Bigla, at 27s
5. Amy Pieters (Ned) Boels-Dolmans, at 42s
6. Lisa Brennauer (Ger) Wiggle-High5, at same time
7. Pauliena Rooijakkers (Ned) Waowdeals, at 48s
8. Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio (RSA) Cervélo-Bigla, at 53s
9. Elena Cecchini (Ita) Canyon-SRAM, at 1-32
10. Amanda Spratt (Aus) Mitchelton-Scott, at 1-37
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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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