As Lorena Wiebes and her DSM team lined up for post race photographs after the Dutch sprinter’s third Women’s Tour stage win, the 23 year-old Dutchwoman did not look happy. Stood in the Breast Cancer Now pink jersey of race points classification leader, she looked more like she had missed out rather than taken a 47th career win.
“It was not the plan,” she told CW once her team mates and the attendant photographers had left her alone, stood in the street still astride her bike.
It seems a bizarre thought that a team would not allow the world’s best sprinter to try for the win on a course that suited her, especially when she was in such scintillating form. That DSM would not allow the Dutch rider the opportunity to equal Marianne Vos’s (Jumbo-Visma) record of three stage victories in one edition of the Women’s Tour, or to take her fifth stage in two years, matching another record.
But DSM have an abundance of talent, and the day wasn’t not meant to be for Wiebes, but for their neo-pro Charlotte Kool.
“The plan was to go for Charlotte,” continued Wiebes as she caught her breath. “But at one point we lost each other and I didn’t hear that she lost my wheel and when I went through the final corner I just moved up and then I looked back and I didn’t see her in the wheel, so then I just continued.
“It’s not the way we want to end it.”
The final bend on the 142.9km stage between and Chipping Norton and Oxford came just over 250m from the line and without her compatriot on her wheel Wiebes had no choice but to continue.
“You don’t go and brake at that point and you have to go with the situation, but like I said, it’s not what we wanted to do.”
It’s been a stellar race for Wiebes, Saturday’s victory her third, and despite more than 2,000m of climbing on Thursday’s fourth stage she came close to winning in Welshpool. There, after two tough Cambrian Mountains, DSM came within 20 seconds of a group of 10 accomplished climbers who had escaped on the first of those climbs. She still won the bunch kick for 10th place.
“We did a really good team effort this week and we showed that we were really strong and the girls did an amazing job,” Wiebes added. “The atmosphere in the team is really good and that really helps, we are all committed to the team and to the plan, we have a plan and we go for it.”
As well as her Women’s Tour hat trick Wiebes also won all three stages at Ride London and has firmly established herself as the world’s best sprinter and DSM the best sprint team, inviting comparisons with Mark Cavendish’s Highroad team. And Kool has proved herself the ideal final lead out rider for Wiebes.
Also 23, Kool joined the team over the winter from NXTG, a development team where she was the main sprinter. While she has her own wins already, she knew she joined the squad as a lead out rider, though was assured there would be opportunities of her own.
“I think you will find out quite fast where my chances will be,” she said prophetically earlier in the week.
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