After a chaotic and fractured stage, Boels-Dolmans opened their Ovo Energy Women’s account today with Amy Pieters taking the win in Stoke-on-Trent.
The Dutchwoman won the uphill sprint into the city centre ahead of British champion Hannah Barnes (Canyon-SRAM), who bagged the best result of her year.
It is Pieters’s first WorldTour win since joining the Dutch team over the winter, though she won the second stage of last year’s race when riding for Wiggle-High5 too.
The day was aggressively contested throughout, with attacks coming from the moment the flag dropped in Stoke. However, despite a number a small number of unsuccessful forays off the front, it was not until 40km had passed that anyone established a meaningful gap.
Then Alé-Cipollini’s 2007 world road champion Marta Bastianelli escaped and was soon joined by Canadian rider Alison Jackson of BePink-Cogeas. The pair established a gap of 1-30 before being caught as the course went just past Utoxeter, 81km in.
Their gap then tumbled, and before the race reached the second sprint in Cheadle they were caught and another group of six went clear. Of these Lucinda Brand (Team Sunweb) was strongest, attacking on the the first classified climb to Ipstones, gaining a lead of around a minute.
Maintaining that gap over Gun Hill she was eventually caught with less than 10km to ride.
Race leader Kasia Niewiadoma (WM3 Energy) finished in the bunch and maintains the green jersey going into tomorrow’s stage between Atherstone and Leamington Spa.
After her Boels-Dolmans team conceded so much time yesterday, Pieters says stage wins are now their focus.
“The climbs were really tough, It was a really hard day after yesterday, so our goal was to go for the stage,” Pieters told reporters after the race. “The team was strong today and we felt really strong and I could save my legs for the sprint.
“We have a strong team here and I hope we can go for everyone for a stage win.”
Niewiadoma had found herself under pressure on the climbs, with no team mates to help, however she was able to resist attacks, particularly one from Wiggle-High5’s Elisa Longo-Borghini, to retain the race lead.
“I knew it would be like this,” she said. “Even though I have a good advantage I knew teams would make a situation that would be good for them. We had Sunweb, Boels, Wiggle and Canyon which have a lot of strong riders and my team are not able to chase every attack.
“There were a lot of situations that I though it was goodbye to the green jersey, but you can’t lose hope and I tried to stay relaxed and calm. Even when Lucinda was there in the front there were teams that would want to go for the stage win, so they felt a responsibility to chase.”
Defending champion and Pieters’s team mate, Lizzie Deignan was not in that front group and finished 8-47 down.
Tomorrow’s stage between Atherstone and Leamington Spa appears less demanding than today, though at 151km, it is the longest of the race and one of the longest race days of the whole season. As such expect a similar situation where a reduced bunch contests the victory.
OVO Energy Women’s Tour, stage two result
1. Amy Pieters (Ned) Boels-Dolmans at 3-49-42
2. Hannah Barnes (GBr) Canyon Sram Racing,
3. Ellen van Dijk (Ned) Team Sunweb
4. Marianne Vos (Ned) WM3 Energie
5. Katarzyna Niewiadoma (Pol) WM3 Energie
6. Elisa Longo-Borghini (Ita) Wiggle High5
7. Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio (RSA) Cervelo-Bigla Pro Cycling
8. Alice Barnes (GBr) Drops
9. Danielle King (GBr) Cylance Pro Cycling
10. Aude Biannic (Fra) FDJ, all at the same time
Ovo Energy Women’s Tour General Classification after stage two
1. Kasia Niewiadoma (Pol) WM3 Energie 7-41-11
2. Marianne Vos (Ned) WM3 Energie at 1-46
3. Hannah Barnes (GBr) Canyon-Sram, st
4. Ellen van Dijk (Ned) Team Sunweb, at 1-48
5. Amy Pieters (Ned) Boels-Dolmans, st
6. Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio (RSA) Cervélo-Bigla, at1-52
7. Alice Barnes (Gbr) Drops, st
8. Christine Majerus (Lux) Boels-Dolmans, at 1-55
9. Cecilie Ludwig (Den) Cervélo-Bigla, at 1-58
10. Danielle King (GBr) Cylance Pro Cycling, at 1-59