Alex Manly breaks the Vos stranglehold with Tour of Scandinavia stage victory

The Australian wins a tense aggressive race after a late five woman move stay away to the line by a hair’s breadth

Alex Manly (right) (BikeExchange-Jayco) wins stage four of the 2022 Tour of Scandinavia
Alex Manly (right) (BikeExchange-Jayco) wins stage four of the 2022 Tour of Scandinavia
(Image credit: Luc Claessen/Getty)

Alex Manly was the rider to break Marianne Vos’s Tour of Scandinavia stranglehold, the Australian winning the fourth stage in Mysen on Friday.

After Vos won the opening three days the Jumbo-Visma rider was odds on favourite for a fourth victory, but an aggressive performance from BikeExchange-Jayco saw the Australian take her first WorldTour win.

Manly bridged across to the solo Alice Barnes (Canyon-SRAM) some 10km from the finish,  the pair working hard, though never allowed too much space. With only three kilometres to go they were joined  by four others and they led into the uphill finish straight, despite the peloton closing fast.

Manly had the courage to open her sprint first, 200m from the line, and held off Chloe Hosking (Trek-Segafredo), with Laura Tomasi (UAE-ADQ) third.

Vos’s compatriot and team mate, Anouska Koster led the four woman group to Manly and Barnes, but once there did little work. For a moment that tactic seemed to work, as Vos nearly sprinted across for the win. However, she finished behind Koster in sixth, though still leads overall, Mainly 20 seconds down.

Saturday sees the peloton head to the ski resort at Norefjell for a mountain top finish which is likely to reshape the GC. A number of pure climbers are at the race and they will be expecting to drop Vos, though one of them, Demi Vollering was one of three SDWorx riders who crashed late in the day, and her condition, or how much time she lost, is not yet known.

How it happened 

After Marianne Vos won the opening three stages of this year’s race, the fourth day could also be one for the rider many say is the greatest ever. 

Lumpier than the three previous days, the 119.2km race between Askim and Mysen was only a few hundred metres longer than Thursday’s shortest stage, and while there may be more climbing, much of the final 20km was either downhill or flat, making for prime bunch kick territory.

Indeed the last time the race’s predecessor, the Ladies Tour of Norway visited Mysen in 2018, Vos was the winner, beating Emilia Fahlin (FDJ-SUEZ-Futuroscope) to the line, just as she did on stage two this week.

She also won the reverse stage in 2019, escaping late on and holding off then British champion Alice Barnes (Canyon-SRAM) to win by a whisker.

The attacks began early on, UAE-ADQ’s British rider, Sophie Wright getting a small gap ahead of the day’s first classified climb. She was caught in the battle for points though, after which ha couple of others tried their luck, though to no avail.

The race settled into a nervous truce until the intermediate sprint at Meieribyen, 47km in. There, after leading out Alison Jackson for maximum points, her Liv-Xstra team began firing one rider after another up the road. 

Coop-Hitec Products, Valcar Travel and Service and even the four women Trek-Segafredo team all joined in the action, but the Dutch squad who were most aggressive. But after 16km of Vos’s Jumbo-Visma forced to do the controlling, it was Parkhotel Valkenburg who got Femke Markus away.

Hoping to emulate her sister, Vos’s team mate Riejanne who won in Mysen at the 2021 Ladies Tour of Norway, Markus worked hard to build an advantage. But with her lead quickly out at 35 seconds, other teams feared missing out, darting repeated moves up the road until she was caught after nine kilometres.

With Markus caught, her team mate Mischa Bredewold was joined by one of stage three’s escapees, former Spanish champion Lourdes Oyarbide (Movistar) and the pair instantly got a gap. Behind them 20 year-old Welshwoman Eluned King was chasing, but with the leader’s advantage out to 45 seconds, the Le Col-Wahoo rider was unable to make contact and was swept up.

BikeExchange-Jayco then went to the front of the bunch, bringing the two leaders to heel with 34km remaining. This allowed Liv-Xstra to go back to work, trying to force a breakaway, and finally Valeirie Demey managed to get away.

The Belgian is fast becoming a breakaway specialist and was soon joined by Nicole Steigenga (Coop-Hitec Products), the pair building a gap of 55 seconds, the peloton taking a chance to collect bottles in preparation for the final 25km.

Bottles on board, a group of nine set off in pursuit, and by the time the frantic peloton had brought them back the two leaders were only 14 seconds up the road. There, with 22km to go German champion Liane Lippert (DSM) took Vos across the gap and the race re-formed, the battle recommencing.

As the race entered the closing 10km Alice Barnes and Alex Manly (BikeExchange-Jayco) had a lead of about 15 seconds.

The pair were kept on a long leash though, the Jumbo-Visma led peloton allowing them to dangle off the front, Barnes’s Canyon-SRAM team mates also present if it came back. With three kilometres to go Vos’s team mate, Anouska Koster led a small group across to the front and a group of six formed.

Barnes had team mate Neve Bradbury with her, along with Chloe Hosking (Trek-Segfredo) and Laura Tomasi (UAE-ADQ) and while the peloton were closing in it was this group that would contest the win.

Result Tour of Scandinavia, stage four: Askim - Mysen (119.2km)

1. Alex Manly (Aus) BikeExchange-Jayco 2-53-44
2. Chloe Hosking (Aus) Trek-Segafredo
3. Laura Tomasi (Ita) UAE-ADQ)
4. Alice Barnes (GBr) Canyon-SRAM
5. Anouska Koster (Ned) Jumbo-Visma
6. Marianne Vos (Ned) Jumbo-Visma
7. Sofia Bertizzolo (Ita) UAE ADQ
8. Lucinda Brand (Ned) Trek-Segafredo 
9. Emilia Fahlin (SWE) FDJ-SUEZ-Futuroscope 
10. Shari Bossuyt (Bel) Canyon-SRAM all at same time 

General classification after stage four

1. Marianne Vos (Ned) Jumbo-Visma in 13-21-52
2. Alex Manly (Aus) BikeExchange-Jayco at 20 sec
3. Shari Bossuyt (Bel) Canyon-SRAM at 22 sec
4. Sofia Bertizzolo (Ita) UAE ADQ at 30 sec
5 Floortje Mackaij (Ned) DSM
6. Megan Jastrab (USA) DSM
7. Marthe Truyen (Bel) Plantur Pura
8. Gladys Verhulst (Fra) Le Col-Wahoo
9. Susanne Andersen (Nor) UNO-X
10. Margaux Vigie (Fra) Valcar Travel and Service all at same time 

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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.