The second stage of RideLondon Classique in and around Maldon was aggressive from start to finish. With bonus seconds on the line and the general classification close, Trek-Segafredo and Canyon-SRAM were keen to distance race leader Charlotte Kool (DSM) before the finish.
Canyon-SRAM especially played their numbers brilliantly and were able to take the team’s first WorldTour win of the season with Chloe Dygert outmanoeuvring Lizzie Deignan in the finale.
Unfortunately, Kool went down in a crash with a kilometre to go, but as it was within the final 3 km, the DSM rider held onto the race lead ahead of the final stage on Sunday.
Canyon-SRAM with the advantage
In stage 1 of RideLondon Canyon-SRAM came to the finish with the numbers but weren’t able to beat Kool in the sprint. For the second stage, they used what they had to their advantage, putting a rider in front of the race to assume control for the final 12 km, and this time they were able to capitalise.
Soraya Paladin, Dygert and Maike van der Duin were all active in the front of the race from the start, following attacks by Deignan and her Trek-Segafredo teammates. Then with 11.3 km to go, Van der Duin, who had led the German outfit in the sprint a day prior, countered an attack by Jumbo-Visma’s Anna Henderson.
The Dutch rider was able to get a gap of just over 30 seconds, and it couldn’t have been better timed. Even if she didn’t succeed, Van der Duin’s lead allowed Dygert and Paladin to sit calmly in the group behind as DSM’s Pfeiffer Georgi and Trek-Segafredo were forced to chase.
Over the last 10 km, the gap to Van der Duin fluctuated, but as the flamme rouge approached, DSM was coming for the solo rider.
Disaster for DSM
But then disaster struck. With the lone leader still a little over 10 seconds up the road, a crash swept through the bunch, taking out most of DSM including race leader and stage favorite Kool.
Even with the crash just outside the flamme rouge, the reduced peloton was moving fast and Van der Duin was caught on the final ramp towards the finish.
Paladin in control
As soon as Van der Duin was a bike length from the reduced peloton Paladin launched her effort, with Deignan and Dygert on her wheel. The speed of the Canyon-SRAM rider made it impossible for anyone else to gain any placings in the group, and put Dygert in the perfect position before the final right-hand corner.
Dygert reads the road
Into the corner, Dygert passed Deignan and Paladin, and in the process, she distanced the former world champion just enough to get a head start for the final meters.
With her speed and the distance between herself and Deignan, Dygert was able to take the stage convincingly. Dygert’s first WT win, and the first this season from Canyon-SRAM.
The win is a huge one for Dygert, who has little experience racing in the WorldTour peloton due to a crash in the 2020 World Championship time trial that took her out of competition for some time.
With two stages down and one to go, Kool leads the overall by five seconds over home favorite Deignan, with Dygert a further five seconds down. The third stage is a 91 km circuit race in London that will likely end in a bunch sprint. Bonus seconds will play an important role, especially for Deignan, if Kool is to be unseated as the race leader.
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