The first stage was decided by a sprint from a small group with Brand finishing as runner up
To give it its full name, the Lotto Thüringen Ladies Tour has been on the calendar for a long time, aside from the exceptional 2020, it has run every year since 1992. Sadly, for one reason or another, there is unfortunately no live TV this year, although it is a well-regarded event.
Because of this, the cycling community was left furiously clicking refresh to find out what was happening in the race – and it doesn’t sound like it was short on action! Fortunately, second-placed Lucinda Brand was in the thick of it so we asked her for a run down of the stage.
“We had three laps of the circuit to do. On the climb in the first lap there was a quite big breakaway with Lizzie. Then, Movistar took control and in the second lap we jumped over with five riders including Audrey and me. At that point, we had a good situation with three riders in front, and Lizzie and Audrey did a great job to keep the group working and always rolling, so we kept around 30 seconds advantage. Then it was down to me to make sure I did the best sprint I could.”
One last climb – a kicker at 7.5% for 600m – remained ahead of the finish. For us, it was a welcome obstacle as we didn’t have the fastest sprinter in the group. Knowing that, Lucinda put the hammer down on the ramp to try to make a final selection.
“The finish was a very difficult one; just three KM before finish was a hard climb, short but steep. I put all in and we were only with a few riders left. Then, it was all the way down to the finish. 400 metres to go there were a couple of corners so it was a tricky finish. Unfortunately I could make it into the corners first, but I’m happy that I could still take second. It was a good start and I’m really excited for the rest of the week. We’re in a good position with the Team,” said Lucinda Brand at the finish.
Lizzie Deignan played an active role in Lucinda’s second place, first representing the Team in the breakaway, and then injecting some much-needed pace into the group after Lucinda made it across, ensuring the group stayed away.
After the finish Lizzie said: “I think today went well. I really enjoyed being back in the race and back with the team. All my training seems to have gone well and I felt good considering I’ve not raced for a long time. I’m just trying to build on my shape each day really. The team rode really well, it was a good way to get the race underway and I enjoyed it.”