Ellen van Dijk also arrives in sixth place as gusty winds wreak havoc for the first day.
Lotta Lepistö sprinted to the win in stage one at the Healthy Ageing Tour, benefiting from a leadout from teammate Ellen van Dijk and successfully avoiding a crash in the last corner that disrupted the ending.
Lepistö: “Ellen helped me in the last kilometer to stay near the front and a big thanks to her. I had to close a gap to Amy Pieters in the last corner, and then two riders tried to go over me and crashed, but I had a good line still so I could sprint to the finish. It was a hectic sprint even though we were only 14 riders! I am happy – It was nice to win today.”
Stage one of the Healthy Ageing Tour opened with an aggressive stage in windy conditions, splitting the peloton and ultimately resulting in a breakaway of 14 riders moving clear with around 45 kilometers to go that included Ellen van Dijk and Lotta Lepistö.
With all the big teams represented, and the windy conditions making for a tough chase, the leading group built a lead that was never threatened, perfect for Trek-Segafredo eyeing both the general classification with van Dijk and the stage win with Lepistö.
In the finale, it was a full-on race for the last tight corner, and the big engine of van Dijk helped place Lepistö perfectly. When a few riders jumped ahead to get to the turn first, it resulted in a crash. Fortunately, Lepistö kept a smart line and was able to get around the downed rider and easily sprinted across the line first.
“I am super happy, we just finished the hard Classics in Belgium and I didn’t have the best legs there, but now I feel my legs have returned again,” continued Lepistö. “It was windy, a little bit cold, and a lot of echelons today that broke the peloton already after 50kms. I knew that Kirsten Wild and Jolien D’Hoore were there, very good and fast sprinters, and we are always fighting in the finales, but I just focused on my sprint and it went perfectly. It’s a good start to the week!”
“It was a good start of the race for our team,” agreed van Dijk. “It was a very hectic day, lots of wind, lots of crashes. Unfortunately, Trixi (Worrack) went down, and we hope all will be good with her. We were pretty good on point – Lotta and me always made it into the first echelon. We wanted to make it a good sprint for Lotta because it was a finish that suits her, and she was feeling good.
“I covered the attacks in the finale, and I had a little mechanical so at one point I couldn’t do so much, but in the last kilometer, my bike was working again, so I could bring Lotta to the last corner. It was chaotic, a crash in the last corner, but Lotta kept it upright and could finish is off. Great start!”
Lotta Lepistö will wear the leader’s jersey into stage two, but the team’s hopes are pinned on van Dijk to hold the jersey after the time trial.
“We look good for the GC because normally for the time trial Anna Van der Breggen and Lisa Brennauer are our two biggest threats and they didn’t make the first echelon, so that’s good,” added van Dijk. “I think Lisa Klein is still very dangerous still because she’s fast and can grab a lot of time bonuses and has a decent time trial. We need to keep focus on that, but I have good legs so I am confident of the GC so far.”