Lucinda Brand sprints to breakaway victory on stage one of Tour de Suisse Women

The Dutch rider picked up her first victory of the year

Lucinda Brand wins stage one of Tour de Suisse Women
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Lucinda Brand (Trek-Segafredo) won the opening stage of the Tour de Suisse Women after sprinting to victory following a surprise breakaway move.

Brand comfortably beat Clara Koppenburg (Cofidis) and Pauliena Rooijakkers (Canyon-SRAM) in a three-way sprint in Vaduz.

The trio came to the line nearly a minute ahead of the rest of the peloton who couldn't chase them down over the 46km route that consisted of 10 laps of the Liechtenstein capital.

Brand holds a two-second lead over Koppenburg going into stage two's individual time-trial.

World Champion Elisa Balsamo (Trek-Segafredo) sits fourth on GC, over a minute behind her teammate.

HOW IT HAPPENED

The Tour de Suisse Féminin returned after a two-decade hiatus last year, and the success of the two-day race meant that 2022’s edition would be even bigger.

This year’s race is part of the UCI Pro Series and has four stages including an individual time-trial.

Stage one of the race might’ve been short in length, a route of just 46km, however it was an evening full of entertainment and aggressive racing thanks to a kermesse-style race around a circuit with just eight corners.

Vaduz, the capital of Liechtenstein, was the venue for the ten-lap circuit that also included three third category classified climbs and two intermediate sprints.

The singular climb within the circuit was not to be ignored either, with a 10% ramp at the top of the 800m-long hill. 

Unsurprisingly, it didn’t take long for the attacks to begin as the bunch ticked off their first lap of the circuit.

Francesca Barale (Team DSM) and Noemi Rüegg (Jumbo-Visma) both tried their luck on the second lap but were swiftly drawn back into the bunch as several riders began to struggle with the intense pace.

It was Rüegg who picked up the maximum number of points on the first QOM climb of the day with 35km to go. 

Clara Koppenberg and Pauliena Rooijakkers managed to force a gap on the bunch with 31km to go. Lucinda Brand then bridged over to them on the next ascent up the hilly part of the circuit.

Rooijakkers took the maximum three seconds available at the first intermediate sprint of the evening, with Koppenburg and Brand picking up two and one second bonuses respectively. 

With 25km of the stage remaining, the trio had a 20-second lead.

The task of chasing the escapees down didn’t appear to be taken up by any one team and this hesitation in the chase benefitted the leading trio who continued to extend their lead.

Team DSM started pulling in the peloton with 15km to go but the lead group were holding on to their advantage.

The technical and narrow route around Vaduz was only playing into the hands of the leaders too, with the bunch unable to cut into their 45-second lead with 12km to go.

Inside 10km to go and the three-rider group had extended their lead to 55 seconds, with it looking more and more likely that the trio would be contesting the stage win.

Rooijakkers secured the QOM jersey on the final third-category climb of the day with 7km left, picking up the maximum three points.

A number of chasers then attacked from the peloton during the penultimate lap, including Floortje Mackaij, Liane Lippert (Team DSM), Jolanda Neff (Swiss Cycling), Kristen Faulkner (Team BikeExchange-Jayco), Jade Wiel (FDJ Nouvelle-Aquitaine Futuroscope) and Soraya Paladin (Canyon-SRAM), but there was still a gap of 50 seconds as the bell rang to signal that just 4.6km remained.

Koppenburg picked up three bonus seconds at the intermediate sprint with a lap to go, with Brand taking second place.

The chasers were still 35 seconds behind with half a lap to go and any hope of making a catch was now surely gone.

Brand, the fastest finisher of the three, nearly dropped her breakaway rivals inside the final lap but as they entered the flamme rouge there was nothing to separate them.

Rooijakkers led the group round the final corner before Brand came to the fore with 200m to go, opening up her sprint and distancing Koppenburg with ease as the German finished second, with Rooijakkers rolling in for third.

The bunch rolled over the line, led by Brand's teammate Elisa Balsamo, 50 seconds down on the breakaway trio.

RESULTS

TOUR DE SUISSE WOMEN, STAGE ONE: VADUZ - VADUZ (46KM)

1. Lucinda Brand (Ned) Trek-Segafredo in 1-09-19
2. Clara Koppenburg (Ger) Cofidis Women Team 
3. Pauliena Rooijakkers (Ned) Canyon-SRAM
4. Elisa Balsamo (Ita) Trek-Segafredo, at 50 seconds
5. Soraya Paladin (Ita) Canyon-SRAM 
6. Floortje Mackaij (Ned) Team DSM
7. Jolanda Neff (Swi) Swiss Cycling
8. Liane Lippert (Ger) Team DSM 
9. Sarah Roy (Aus) Canyon-SRAM
10. Kristen Faulkner (USA) Team BikeExchange-Jayco, all at same time 

GENERAL CLASSIFICATION AFTER STAGE ONE

1. Lucinda Brand (Ned) Trek-Segafredo in 1-09-19
2. Clara Koppenburg (Ger) Cofidis Women Team, at 2 seconds
3. Pauliena Rooijakkers (Ned) Canyon-SRAM, at 5s
4. Elisa Balsamo (Ita) Trek-Segafredo, at 1-03
5. Soraya Paladin (Ita) Canyon-SRAM
6. Floortje Mackaij (Ned) Team DSM
7. Jolanda Neff (Swi) Swiss Cycling 
8. Liane Lippert (Ger) Team DSM
9. Sarah Roy (Aus) Canyon-SRAM
10. Kristen Faulkner (USA) Team BikeExchange-Jayco, all at same time

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