By Owen Rogers
Chiara Consonni bagged her first top flight win at the Boels Ladies Tour on Sunday, sprinting from a reduced group. What remained of her Valcar-Cylance team had led into the closing kilometre, keeping the pace high, leaving the 20 year-old to surf wheels in the closing metres.
The Italian then out-sprinted double stage winner Lorena Wiebes (Parkhotel-Valkenburg) who finished second, with Lucinda Brand (Sunweb) crossing the line in third.
The race was won overall by Christine Majerus, whose Boels-Dolmans team did well to defend her 30 second lead, allowing her to finish 10th on the stage.
The win was her first WorldTour stage race victory and came off the back of her second place on Saturday’s fourth stage, where she finished second from a breakaway. She began Sunday’s closing stage with a 30 second advantage, which was only threatened when she suffered an ill-timed puncture.
The Luxembourg rider was forced to change her bike immediately after an attack from Brand, who managed to build a 30 second lead. The Dutchwoman started the day with a 40 second deficit and, had she won from that position, bonus seconds would have given her the overall.
However, team-mate and world champion Anna van der Breggen did much of the work to bring Brand back and ensure an important victory for the team in a race backed by their lead sponsor, whose continued association is uncertain.
How it happened
In a reverse of stage four, Sunday’s final stage tackled 154.8km between Nijmegen and Arnhem and the peloton seemed uninterested in starting a long day in the saddle in aggressive style.
The opening 30km were ridden at a leisurely pace, though some attacks were stymied when the race was briefly neutralised to cross the Rhine bridge at Arnhem on a narrow bike path.
Past the city and attacks started to go, though little was getting away. Parkhotel-Valkenburg’s Roxane Knetemann tried her luck on what would be her last race at elite level, but was allowed little leeway and was soon back in the pack.
With Lorena Wiebes third on GC, 32 seconds behind leader Majerus, the team seemed intent on getting someone in the break, as soon afterwards Femke Markus attacked, though she too was quickly brought back.
Between the attacks the race continued in a state of relative torpor, rolling along the flat roads at little more than 30kph, no teams having the strength or willing to collectively put the lead under pressure in the benign conditions.
This may have had something to do with crashes which had blighted the earlier stages. Only 68 of the 101 women who began Tuesday’s prologue rolled out of Nijmegen meaning any challengers were under strength.
Only with 78km to go did anything finally stick, with Małgorzata Jasińska (Movistar) launching off the front. A consummate breakaway artist, the former Polish champion soon built lead of 1-45, rocking and rolling as she pushed a huge gear through the Dutch flatlands.
By the time she entered the closing 50km her lead was out to 3-15, with Majerus’s Boels-Dolmans team happy, the Polish rider having a deficit of over 10 minutes at the start of the day.
However, with two bonus sprints in the closing 35km Jasińska’s advantage was soon brought down and though she led over the bonus climb she was caught on the descent.
Then it was Lucinda Brand, one of the world’s best descenders, who attacked, winning the three bonus seconds five kilometres later with a lead of 30 seconds on a depleted bunch.
Two-time winner Annemiek van Vleuten also launched after her, though neither was able to create big enough gap on the Boels-Dolmans led group.
They managed to bring the leaders back under control and a group of around 30 women entered the two laps of a closing circuit to contest the stage.
Boels Ladies Tour 2019, stage five: Nijmegen to Arnhem (154.8km)
1. Chiara Consonni (Ita) Valcar Cylance, in 3-56-26
2. Lorena Wiebes (Ned) Parkhotel Valkenburg
3. Lucinda Brand (Ned) Sunweb
4. Marta Bastianelli (Ita) Virtu Cycling
5. Eugénie Duval (Fra) FDJ Nouvelle Aquitaine Futuroscope
6. Lisa Brennauer (Ger) WNT-Rotor
7. Floortje Mackaij (Ned) Sunweb
8. Lisa Klein (Ger) Canyon SRAM
9. Alison Jackson (Can) TIBCO - SVB
10. Christine Majerus (Lux) Boels-Dolmans, all at same time
16. Lizzie Deignan (GBr) Trek-Segafredo, at 3s
Final general classification
1. Christine Majerus (Lux) Boels-Dolmans, in 17-01-17
2. Lorena Wiebes (Ned) Parkhotel Valkenburg, at 26 seconds
3. Lisa Klein (Ger) Canyon SRAM, at 30s
4. Lucinda Brand (Ned) Sunweb, at 34s
5. Amy Pieters (Ned) Boels-Dolmans, at 35s
6. Annemiek van Vleuten (Ned) Mitchelton-Scott, at 42s
7. Lizzie Deignan (GBr) Trek-Segafredo, at 47s
8. Lisa Brennauer (Ger) WNT-Rotor, at 49s
9. Anna van der Breggen (Ned) Boels-Dolmans, at 52s
10. Leah Thomas (USA) Bigla, at 54s
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