Lotta Lepistö sprints to fourth place after van Dijk’s gutsy attack was thwarted.
As promised, Ellen van Dijk was not going to go down without a fight, and she and her Trek-Segafredo team put her words to action with just under 15 kilometers remaining in the Healthy Ageing Tour Sunday.
With Anna van der Breggen (Boels-Dolmans) leading the race after a solo attack, Trek-Segafredo worked to bring the world champion within a manageable gap. When van Dijk jumped and bridged to van der Breggen, it put two of the strongest women against the clock in the lead with 13 kilometers to go, and the alarm bells sounded behind.
It was an excellent team effort today; everyone was going for one goal to get me to the first spot in the GC.
Panic ensued for race leader Lisa Klein – only eight seconds ahead in the classification – and her Canyon-SRAM team as the pair of world-class time trialists began a tag-team effort.
It turned into a thrilling race for the yellow jersey.
“It was an excellent team effort today; everyone was going for one goal to get me to the first spot in the GC,” explained van Dijk. “We really went all-in and gave it 100 percent, and we had a good chance in the last 15k, but unfortunately it wasn’t enough.”
The pair gained 15 seconds at most, but were within spitting distance with seven kilometers remaining, and tagged back five kilometers from the end. A valiant effort from van Dijk with help from van der Breggen, but Klein and her team were up for the match, and with the sprinters eyeing a stage win, the pace from behind was insurmountable even for these two powerhouse riders.
“I think tactically we raced well, we really gave it all, and this was it, what I tried,” continued van Dijk. “Unfortunately, Canyon had help from some other teams, but that’s bike racing.”
The bunch sprint was won by Kirsten Wild (WNT Rotor), her second sprint victory of the race and she also rounded out the final podium with third overall.
Lotta Lepistö just missed the top three, sprinting to fourth place. She had won the first stage and held the leader’s jersey through the time trial – won by van Dijk – giving Trek-Segafredo a very successful week.
“It was a good week for us,” agreed van Dijk. “I have to say that Lisa Klein really deserved this win. We fought for it until the end with the whole team, and I am proud of our effort, but she was too strong.”