Former German champion Lisa Klein won a cagey sprint from a four woman group to win the third stage of the Boels Ladies Tour on Friday.
The Canyon-SRAM rider led into the final corner, half opened her sprint to draw her rivals out, manoeuvring herself to the back of the group, before opening up for real to take the win. The victory puts her into the overall lead with two days remaining.
The final was a repeat of the recent European championships, when Klein had been part of a three woman group in the final with Dutchwoman Amy Pieters (Boels-Dolmans). Then, it was Pieters who took the win, but on this occasion the Dutchwoman finished second.
For the third stage running Lizzie Deignan was in a breakaway late in the race, and with this escape staying until the end the Trek-Segafredo rider managed third place, ahead of Amanda Spratt (Mitchelton-Scott).
Though Klein only leads overall by two seconds from previous orange jersey holder Lorena Wiebes (Parkhotel-Valkenburg), she has a real chance to take the overall win. She posted an excellent time on the opening day prologue and is an accomplished sprinter, though she will need to find some way of countering Wiebes’s speed and skill in the bunch finishes.
How it happened
The longest day of the five, the 156.8km race starting and finishing in Nijverdal was similar to the previous stages, the opening kilometres being relatively quiet. Only the intermediate sprints brought any concerted action.
After finishing fourth on the two preceding stages, Amy Pieters (Boels-Dolmans) bagged the three second bonus, with race leader Lorena Wiebes (Parkhotel-Valkenburg) apparently caught out.
The five circuits in the country’s far east were slightly undulating, with the day’s mountain sprint coming at the top of a hill which ramped up to about 8% gradient.
New Zealander Georgia Williams (Mitchelton-Scott) bagged the five points there, before Wiebes returned to form at the next bonus sprint, with 77km to go.
Only at the end of the third of five laps was there a serious attack, with Mareille Meijering of the Dutch national team getting away for a couple of kilometres. That was all the freedom she was allowed though, the 24 year-old soon back in the bunch.
However, her move seemed to put in motion a train of events leading to the finish, as immediately afterwards, Gloria Rodriguez (Movistar) got away. With her up the road the bunch sped up, and though she built a lead of 25 seconds she was caught some four kilometres later.
That increase in pace in the peloton, caused near instant split on the narrow winding Dutch lanes, and a strong group of 20 riders gained a lead of around 30 seconds.
Many of the top riders, including both British pair Deignan and Hannah Barnes (Canyon-SRAM), made that lead group, though notable by their absence were Wiebes and Annemiek van Vleuten (Mitchelton-Scott,) first and second on GC overall.
With the overall win disappearing across the purple heathland the two Dutchwomen worked together to get across to the leaders, rejoining them just as there was a further attack, this time from 2016 world champion Amalie Dideriksen (Boels-Dolmans).
Brit, Hannah Barnes (Canyon-SRAM) escaped too and made her way across to the Danish rider, the pair forging ahead, extending their lead to 45 seconds.
The pair led over the final bonus sprint, but by then the group of around 25 women were just seconds behind and they were caught, the winning move escaping soon after, inside the closing eight kilometres.
Saturday sees the race take on a 135.6km stage between Arnhem and Nijmegen, with a longer reverse route to conclude the event on Sunday.
Boels Ladies Tour, stage three: Nijverdal – Nijverdal (156.8km)
1. Lisa Klein (Ger) Canyon-SRAM in 4-00-53
2. Amy Pieters (Ned) Boels-Dolmans
3. Lizzie Deignan (Gbr) Trek-Segafredo
4. Amanda Spratt (Aus) Mitchelton-Scott all at same time
5. Lorena Wiebes (Ned) Parkhotel-Valkenburg at 09 sec
6. Marta Bastianelli (Ita) Virtu
7. Lucinda Brand (Ned) Sunweb
8. Christine Majerus (Lux) Boels-Dolmans
9. Emma Norsgaard (Den) Bigla
10. Elisa Balsamo (Ita) Valcar-Cylance all at same time
General classification after stage three
1. Lisa Klein (Ger) Canyon-SRAM in 9-50-04
2. Lorena Wiebes (Ned) Parkhotel-Valkenburg at 02 sec
3. Amy Pieters (Ned) Boels-Dolmans at 06 sec
4. Lucinda Brand (Ned) Sunweb at 10 sec
5. Annemiek van Vleuten (Ned) Mitchelton-Scott at 12 sec
6. Lizzie Deignan (Gbr) Trek-Segafredo at 17 sec
7. Lisa Brennauer (Ger) WNT-Rotor at 19 sec
8. Amanda Spratt (Aus) Mitchelton-Scott at 21 sec
9. Anna van der Breggen (Ned) Boels-Dolmans at 22 sec
10. Christine Majerus (Lux) Boels-Dolmans at 23 sec