Race report

Lucinda Brand on the attack before sprinting to strong 3rd place

Boels Ladies Tour

The last day of racing at the Boels Ladies Tour saw the peloton complete the reverse journey of yesterday’s stage, as they started in Nijmegen and finished in Arnhem. The parcours could be split into two clear sections; with the opening two thirds almost completely flat before the last 40 kilometres of racing saw the peloton faced with several hills and a rolling finish circuit.

It was a slow start to the day, with the bunch happy to roll around as it was difficult for any attacks to get clear on the narrow roads. Eventually a solo rider broke clear and their advantage would extend out to over three minutes. However, the pace was increased dramatically in the peloton as they approached the hilly finale and the breakaway’s advantage would tumble.

Over the top of one of the climbs and on the technical descent, Lucinda Brand used her great bike handling skills to get clear of the bunch with around 30 kilometres of the stage to go. Fighting hard, Brand increased her lead over the peloton to 25 seconds at one point, but the peloton were intent on bringing her back. Taking the bell to begin the last lap of the finish circuit in Arnhem, Brand was reeled back in by the peloton. That didn’t deter the team who put in more attacks on the circuit, with both Floortje Mackaij and Franziska Koch active at the front.

The stage would be decided in a reduced bunch sprint and after some good positioning work on the fast descent leading into the final few hundred metres, Brand was near the head of the bunch. With something still left in her legs, Brand produced a strong kick to the line and took third place on the day, while Mackaij also finished in the top ten for the team with a good seventh place.

As a result of bonus seconds at the intermediate sprint and those on the line, Brand moved up on the overall classification and ends the race in fourth place on GC.

“It was a long stage and quite boring in the beginning; there wasn’t a lot of wind and a few teams had several riders out already so it was mostly quiet until the final,” explained Brand. “I was able to take some bonus seconds which was good and over the top of the climb there were several attacks. I thought I would give it a try and went on the attack but unfortunately no one came with me. Annemiek tried to bridge and I waited for her a little bit but she wasn’t able to make it. The peloton played with my distance a bit after that, with the gap changing between ten to 25 seconds all the time. I knew that the chance I would make it to the line was slim so I tried to save some energy on the hilly laps before they caught me. It worked out well and once I was caught I was able to position myself for the sprint. I didn’t expect to sprint to third today so it is a bit crazy but it is really nice. We’ve finished a good week off today; with the victory yesterday and winning the mountain classification. I think we can all be satisfied with our week of racing here.”

Team Sunweb coach Nicolas Marche added: “The girls rode really well today and kept the aggressive approach like we had yesterday. Lucinda put on a show with her attack and still sprinted to third place at the end; it was really impressive. We’ve ended the race with one win, a few podium spots, the mountains jersey and a solid fourth place on GC; it has been a good week for us.”