You’ve heard the name Blanka Vas before. Whether or not you follow cyclocross, where the young Hungarian first made her name, Vas will have been on you radar if for no other reason than her presence on the ever-prolific SD Worx team.
Often a core team player, the 21-year-old got her own chance on stage 1 of the Tour de Suisse, supported by a team that defies hyperbole, and sprinted to her first Women’s WorldTour victory, taking the race lead in the process.
It marks a successful return to WorldTour racing for the top team which was a noted absentee from the recent RideLondon Classique – SD Worx chose to race, and dominate, the Lotto Thüringen Tour instead – and though Demi Vollering and home favourite Marlen Reusser headline the Tour de Suisse squad, it was Vas who picked up where the Dutch outfit left off at the Vuelta a Burgos in May.
As ever, it was a team effort from beginning to end. The peloton leaned heavily on SD Worx once solo attacker Elise Chabbey (Canyon-SRAM) gained an early advantage on the punchy 56km opening stage, and though Reusser could be seen remonstrating with reluctant rival teams in the late stages, it was SD Worx that led the catch, only Trek-Segafredo earning any real gratitude in the chase.
Again, it fell to SD Worx to close a late move launched by Elisa Longo Borghini (Trek-Segafredo), then Reusser hit the front with Vas on her wheel. Women’s WorldTour leader Vollering also made the small group in the attritional finale, but it became clear in the run-in that the plan was to set up the punchy young Hungarian.
When Reusser finished her lead-out effort, only Movistar’s Arlenis Sierra was still in contention, but she could not escape Vas’s slipstream as the cyclocross star launched her powerful sprint, Vollering cheering her on a few metres behind.
That SD Worx has taken their 34th victory seems no longer newsworthy – in fact, that very statement seems worthy of note in a very meta fashion – but that they continue to do so with an eighth distinct rider (of the 15 who are active this season), and a first-time winner, no less, is certainly worth shouting about. What’s more, Vas’s sprint win into Weinfelden extends their streak of victories to 19.
With a 25.7 km time trial to come on Sunday and Swiss time trial specialist Marlen Reusser in their ranks, who would bet against SD Worx making it 20 on stage 2?
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