Inside the DSM sprint train which makes Lorena Wiebes the world’s best sprinter

Dutch neo-pro Charlotte Kool happy to lead Lorena Wiebes to victory after blaming herself for the stage one crash

Charlotte Kool (left) with her victorious DSM team after Lorena Wiebes's stage two win of the 2022 Women's Tour
Charlotte Kool (left) with her victorious DSM team after Lorena Wiebes's stage two win of the 2022 Women's Tour
(Image credit: Alex Whitehead/SWPix)

A second crash in as many days could have disrupted team DSM's plans at the Women’s Tour on Tuesday, but a cool headed sprint train delivered Lorena Wiebes to the win - vindicating a leadout rider who blamed herself for the previous day's get-down. 

The win was special to Charlotte Kool, who - having led into the first of two late, tight corners, before crashing and taking Wiebes and others with her - was harbouring feelings of responsibility, despite other riders blaming a dangerous run in to the finish

“I can say I blame myself for that crash. I took that corner way too fast and I was especially disappointed to take the rest of the bunch and especially Lorena with me, so it’s really fun to take that win today," Kool told Cycling Weekly, now full of confidence and adding: "let’s go for more stages!”

But the stage two win was almost not to be. With just eight kilometres of the 92.1 parcours remaining, a crash at the front of the peloton put the entire team out of position, leaving them chasing to get back to the leading group. 

Wiebes was able to get back to the reduced peloton relatively quickly, but the rest of her team took a while to rejoin, though their road captain, British champion Pfeiffer Georgi never regained the group. 

When Kool finally made it to the sharp end of the race, the 23 year-old neo-pro went straight to the front, delivering her leader perfectly.

“I came from the back and I saw Lorena and I did the best I can so Lorena didn’t have to sprint too long. I saw the 200m line and I thought ‘this hurts!’ but it was OK, 200m will be fine, she can do that. And she of course finished it off, so it’s good that we can switch tactics if something happens.”

DSM have built their team around Wiebes, who is without question the world’s in-form sprinter this year. So far in 2022 the 23 year-old has nine wins to her name, taking her total to 45 since her first in May 2018.

Though she can find her own way to the finish line, her presence on the team has allowed DSM to develop the best lead out in the women’s peloton, though it is surprisingly democratic according to Kool.

“Pfeiffer is the road captain but we are actually all in charge,” she explains. “Pfeiffer makes the orders on chasing or which side [of the road] we choose, but we are all pretty smart and we all know how the game works, so I can also give orders and Lorena can give orders. It’s like we do it all together actually, everyone can say something and we will all listen."

Could it be a case of too many leaders? Not so, "we all have the same direction so it’s not like everyone is saying left or right, if someone shouts left then the whole group is left,” Kool said. 

Kool joined the team this season from the NXTG development squad, and has sprint victories of her own, with two last year and one since joining DSM. However, though she remains ambitious, for now she is happy to work as Wiebes’ right hand woman.

“I think we can be really happy about how it goes this year. For me it was pretty new to be lead out instead of sprinting for myself, that’s a switch, but I learnt a lot from it, and I think I can take all the things I learn now to the future.

“I signed early for the team and the most important was to grow as a rider so that I can also handle the hard finals and harder races. I think I made already a huge step, so I never had any problems and I’m also getting chances. 

“The team has a lot of confidence in my own sprint. And Lorena and I are really good together and we have a lot of fun and I think we learn from each other and she’s helping me. It’s a big benefit for me to work with one of the best.”

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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.