By Owen Rogers
For the second consecutive stage the Ladies Tour of Norway breakaway took the win, Riejanne Markus winning in Mysen by a hair’s breadth.
After joining the day’s breakaway around 40km out, the Jumbo-Visma rider defended a lead of less than a minute when she entered the closing 8.2km circuit around the finish town.
Behind her the reduced peloton split, but seemed not to have learnt the previous day’s lesson, and failed to work cohesively, much of the work left to DSM.
For the second day DSM took second place, pre-stage favourite Coryn Rivera crossing the line two seconds behind Markus, while Canadian Alison Jackson was third.
Originally commissaires decided the overall lead should stay with stage one winner Kristen Faulkner (Tibco-Silicon Valley Bank). However, as Markus had been a solo breakaway, as opposed to part of the sprint, the three second gap rule did not apply and the Dutch rider was later awarded the overall lead by dint of her 2.4 second winning margin. All parties were told of the change in their cars on the way to their hotels.
Markus has been improving steadily in recent seasons, and while she is often working in the service of team-mate Marianne Vos, she took her opportunity with aplomb.
How it happened
Though the start and finish towns of Askim and Mysen are only 14km apart, organisers had constructed a winding looping course of 145.2km between the two small towns which sit in the gently rolling countryside around 70km southeast of the capital, Oslo.
The route covered a number of roads more than once, and concluded with one 8.2km closing circuit of the finish town.
One notable absentee from the start on Friday was Brit Anna Henderson (Jumbo-Visma) who took her first two race victories in France only last week.
Despite an attempt by a large group of around 15 to escape, the race stayed together until an intermediate sprint after 26.7km gave the race its first view of the finish line in Mysen. That intermediate sprint point was won by overall leader, Kristen Faulkner (Tibco-Silicon Valley Bank) who was clearly looking to defend her position in the points classification.
Just inside the final 100km and a brief foray off the front by Liv Racing’s Sabrina Stultiens was followed by a more concerted effort from the French duo of Audrey Cordon-Ragot (Trek-Segafredo) and Aude Biannic (Movistar).
The two Bretonne riders know each other well and are equally strong, the pair fighting to gradually eke out a lead, battling the wind and finally expanding their advantage to one minute before the peloton allowed them their head.
Over the next few kilometres the French duo built an advantage of 1-50, though that was reduced by 10 seconds when they were slowed by a closed rail crossing. Though neither had to unclip, the following 20km saw them lose another 50 seconds, tempting Riejanne Markus (Jumbo-Visma) to try to bridge across.
When the Dutchwoman got across the gap went out again, reaching 1-30 with only 38km to go,
but having been caught out by the breakaway on stage one, the bunch were in no mood to allow them too much space, and the lead stabilised, before once again dropping.
Inside the final 25km, and with the lead the same number of seconds, Biannic and Cordon-Ragot dropped back, leaving Markus to forge on alone, extending her lead back out to 30 seconds on a bunch surely wary of the previous day’s mistakes.
But despite that as they entered the final 15km Markus's lead was out to one minute, though the headwind on the long straight run into Mysen and a final, lumpy 8.2km lap was sure to tax her. Markus, though had other ideas as she held on to the line.
Saturday sees the race move to new territory, with its first mountain top finish. The ski resort of Norefjell was used for the Alpine skiing events at the 1952 Olympics and the 11km climb, with its 18% ramps is certain to be a huge chalenge.
Ladies Tour of Norway 2021, stage two: Askim - Mysen (142.2km)
1. Riejanne Markus (Ned) Jumbo-Visma, in 3-40-01
2. Coryn Rivera (USA) Team DSM
3. Alison Jackson (Can) Liv Racing
4. Elise Chabbey (Sui) Canyon-SRAM
5. Sanne Cant (Bel) Plantur-Pura
6. Lucinda Brand (Ned) Trek-Segafredo
7. Sarah Roy (Aus) Team BikeExchange
8. Eleonora Gasparrini (Ita) Valcar - Travel & Service
9. Stine Borgli (Nor) FDJ Nouvelle Aquitaine Futuroscope
10. Kristen Faulkner (USA) Tibco-Silicon Valley Bank, all at same time
General classification after stage two
1. Riejanne Markus (Ned) Jumbo-Visma, in 7-18-06
2. Kristen Faulkner (USA) Team Tibco-Silicon Valley Bank at 2 sec
3. Susanne Andersen (Nor) Team DSM, at 6 seconds
4. Coryn Rivera (USA) Team DSM
5. Alison Jackson (Can) Liv Racing, at 8s
6. Lucinda Brand (Ned) Trek-Segafredo, at 12s
7. Sanne Cant (Bel) Plantur-Pura
8. Cecilie Uttrip Ludwig (Den) FDJ Nouvelle Aquitaine Futuroscope
9. Elise Chabbey (Sui) Canyon-SRAM
10. Sarah Roy (Aus) Team BikeExchange, all at same time
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