After two stage wins and one day in the leader’s yellow jersey Lorena Wiebes finished 10th on the hilly Women’s Tour stage four into Welshpool. It was never meant to be a day for the sprinters, with many touting it as the day for the general classification.
However, that didn't stop Wiebes' DSM team mates doing their best to deliver her to the final at the front of the bunch - with British National Road Race champion Pfeiffer Georgi pivotal in the effort.
“I never gave up in my head, I was fighting until the last kilometre," the 21 year old told Cycling Weekly.
Starting in Wrexham the race headed to the Cambrian Mountains, and as well as two classified climbs and plenty of lesser ascents, there was barely a flat metre on the entire 144.7km. Wiebes seemed to have other plans though. “We will go all in tomorrow to make it three,” she said in a team press release after her second stage victory on Wednesday.
And it was a close run thing. Her DSM squad took her to within 20 seconds of the group of climbers who escaped on the first of those climbs and eventually fought for the stage victory. Even after all that Wiebes still won the sprint for 10th place, 1-16 behind winner Grace Brown (FDJ-Nouvelle Aquitaine Futuroscope).
When the race finally emerged from the 4G blackhole of central Wales and onto the world’s TV screens, the peloton was 100km in and the leading group had been up the road for 30km. Due to DSM’s efforts the advantage for 10 of the world’s best riders had rarely exceeded 30 seconds, and their entire team were still nailing it on the front.
Only the last significant unclassified ascent did the gap grow to 50 seconds, but such was DSM’s commitment even then it came back to 20 seconds. In the end though such an effort has a cost and only DSM team mate Georgi was left, her white national champion’s grey with wet and road grime.
“Yeah, that was so hard,” said Georgi. Though unsuccessful the team’s performance was a realisation of a plan which came very close to working.
“We tried to aim for a sprint today,” she continued. “Just control the moves with all of us at the front because it was so technical and hard from the beginning, have the overview and keep control of the race.
“We were doing really well but we were a bit unlucky, Lorena had a flat tyre before the last climb so we had to wait a bit. But then the whole team was fully committed, and we just chased as hard as we could. In the end it didn’t pay off.”
Georgi’s final turn on the front seemed to last forever, the 21 year-old burying herself kilometre after kilometre.
“I never gave up in my head, I was fighting until the last kilometre. Because I think you just need to keep trying, and if it doesn’t pay off, it doesn’t pay off, but you can’t give up just because it’s slipping away, you never what what’s going to happen.”
Wiebes and the team have had a stellar season and an even more successful visit to the UK. The Dutch rider won all three stages at Ride London, and had her final lead out rider, Charlotte Kool not crashed in the technical final into Bury St Edmunds on Monday, her form is such that she seemed nailed on to win the Women’s Tour’s opening stage.
“We go into races with a plan and everyone commits 100% to the goal, and obviously Lorena is in amazing form so it gives a lot of confidence when you of your job properly and she can finish it off.”
Friday’s penultimate stage is the race’s first ever mountain top finish, so maybe not one for Wiebes of Georgi. “I’ll just hang on, try to survive, I don’t think I’ll be there, but we’ll give it a go. We’ll go again Saturday.”
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