How it happened...
Early in the race a group of 20 riders went clear, with Lauretta Hanson present in the Lidl-Trek colors. Shortly afterwards, UCI youth leader Shirin van Anrooij and Stage 1 winner Elisa Balsamo bridged across with another group, bringing the lead group to 24 riders.
A high pace on the finish circuit sent a few riders out the back, whilst making it hard for any riders to attack successfully. With 21km to go Kasia Niewiadoma broke clear, but was unable to escape the sight of the peloton, which brought her back with 4km remaining. Heading to an inevitable sprint, Elisa Balsamo found a space near the front of the group and outsprinted all but winner Lorena Wiebes.
Shirin van Anrooij finished her home stage race in ninth place overall, whilst Balsamo was 14th.
It was a really tough last stage after five very intense days of racing. We knew it could be a good opportunity to try and repeat the win we got on Wednesday and we worked hard to make it happen.
In the first part of the stage, we unfortunately missed out on a strong breakaway that kept the peloton on edge all day. This forced us to work extra hard not to miss the chance to play our cards in a sprint. Grit and willpower, however, were not lacking. My teammates worked hard to keep the breakaway within an acceptable margin, then, on the climb, Shirin and I forced the pace to come back on the leading group. It took almost 30km but in the end, with a small chasing group, we made it.
In the sprint I moved in advance because the finish was complicated and, like the last sprint, positioning and timing counted a lot. I don't think I did anything wrong, I gave it my maximum, simply this time Wiebes was stronger than me. Compared to the podium I got the other day, it's a result I accept without too much regret.
I go home from Simac Ladies Tour with a lot of awareness. The victory and podium results have served to give me lots of confidence. I know that unfortunately between now and the end of the season there's not a lot of racing days, but I still want to give it my all for the best possible finish. With a team like this by my side, anything is possible.