Lorena Wiebes made it two from two at the Ride London Classique, taking a second stage victory in Epping on Saturday.
Off the back of another imperious performance from her DSM team, the Dutchwoman was placed perfectly on the long straight final, winning by around four bike lengths. Marta Bastianelli (UAE Team ADQ) finished second, with Emma Bjerg (Movistar) third.
Completely confident in their abilities, DSM had allowed a solo breakaway to take a virtual general classification lead of three minutes, but easily brought that back with more than 30km to go.
In recent years Wiebes has established herself as the peloton’s leading sprinter, though this year her superiority has been threatened by world champion Elisa Balsamo. However, on Saturday the Italian was outside the top 10 and Wiebes once again seems unbeatable.
Sunday’s final stage sees the peloton tackles a near pan flat circuit race in London. Starting and finishing on the Embankment, close to the Houses of Parliament, Wiebes will start the day favourite to secure her seat at the top of the sport.
How it happened
For its second stage Ride London headed west, though only by a few miles, to Chelmsford and an all together gnarlier day’s racing, which, at 141.7km was the race’s longest. The stage began with the peloton heading north, passing the well known Blue Egg cycling café near Braintree before riding through Finchingfield, evoking memories of the the 2014 Tour de France when the north Essex village made headlines, packed as it was with fans.
The route then headed south for an intermediate sprint in Great Dunmow and another on the finish line in Epping before three different loops around Epping Forest.
Though the top 14 were all within 17 seconds of Lorena Wiebes’s overall lead, the opening stage had caused some significant time gaps, with more than 40 riders over one minute down. This meant the leader’s DSM squad were minded to allow the right breakaway up the road.
And despite a fast start in-form American, Veronica Ewers managed to get away. By the time 35km had been covered the EF Education-Tibco-SVB rider had built a gap on 3-30, holding the virtual race lead by three minutes, having begun the day only 36 seconds behind Wiebes.
DSM were not messing around though, and with Ewers taking the maximum three bonus seconds in Great Dunmow, Wiebes was second, the team taking to the front to bring the gap down. And as they approached Epping for the second and final intermediate sprint Ewers’s lead was down to 2.20.
With three classified climbs on coming after crossing the line in Epping, Jumbo-Visma also came to the front in defence of Anna Henderson’s lead in the Queen of the Mountains competition, especially as she was racing close to her Hemel Hempstead home.
Ewers was hanging on by her fingertips by then, taking the first classified climb less than 40 seconds ahead of Henderson, but was caught with around 35km remaining. The Brit won the second climb a few kilometres later, with it provisionally securing the mountains jersey, with no climbs on Sunday’s final stage in London.
High paced, the final kilometres of the stage saw no one able to get off the front, and few drift off the back, with DSM providing the perfect lead out for Wiebes.
Result Ride London Classique, stage two: Chelmsford - Epping (141.7km)
1. Lorena Wiebes (Ned) DSM in 3-39-13
2. Marta Bastianelli (Ita) UAE Team ADQ
3. Emma Bjerg (Den) Movistar
4. Lotte Kopecky (Bel) SDWWorx
5. Chiara Consonni (Ita) Valcar Travel and Service
6. Silvia Persico (Ita) Valcar Travel and Service
7. Vittoria Guazzini (Ita) FDJ-Nouvelle Aquitaine Futuroscope
8. Jesse Vandenbulcke (Bel) Le Col-Wahoo
9. Ally Wollaston (NZL) AG Insurance-NXTG
10. Sarah Roy (Aus) Canyon-SRAM
General classification after stage two
1. Lorena Wiebes (Ned) DSM in 7-09-11
2. Elisa Balsamo (Ita) Trek-Segafredo at 18 sec
3. Emma Bjerg (Den) Movistar at 19 sec
4. Lotte Kopecky (Bel) SDWorx at 25 sec
5. Marta Bastianelli (Ita) UAE Team ADQ at same time
6. Chiara Consonni (Ita) Valcar Travel and Service at 26 sec
7. Silvia Persico (Ita) Valcar Travel and Service at 27 sec
8. Vittoria Guazzini (Ita) FDJ-Nouvelle Aquitaine Futuroscope at same time
9. Jesse Vandenbulcke (Bel) Le Col-Wahoo at 31 sec
10. Simone Boilard (Can) St Michel-Auber93 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.
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