An aggressive final stage of the Simac Ladies Tour left just 26 riders to fight for the win, and of course, it was Lorena Wiebes who took the stage, her first of the week despite two sprint finishes early on. She was delivered to the line by her SD Worx teammate Lotte Kopecky, who remained unchallenged for the overall and finished third on the day. Elisa Balsamo (Lidl-Trek) finished second, her third time on the podium at the Simac Ladies Tour.
Annemiek van Vleuten rode across the line in the second group and took a minute to raise her arms in celebration of an incredible career. She was greeted by her mom and a slew of fans, signs and banners.
How it happened
- The pace from the start split the peloton to pieces, leaving 26 riders at the head of the race including Kopecky, Wiebes and their teammate Mischa Bredewold.
- A day after she’d attacked and managed to come away with third and with 27 km to go Kasia Niewiadoma tried again to leave the fractured peloton behind, slipping away to gain half a minute. The Canyon-SRAM rider gave it a great go, but unfortunately, she was caught by the chasing group of 25 riders just inside the final 2 km.
- Another attack by Floortje Mackaij was foiled by the speed of the reduced peloton and the race ended in a stage victory for Wiebes, her first of the week, from the reduced bunch.
Brief stage results
- In the end, no one could take the leader’s jersey off the back of Kopecky. The road world champion was everywhere she needed to be, with the help of her super team SD Worx. The team that has continued to dominate took three of the six stages, two with Kopecky and this final stage with Wiebes.
- It’s worth noting that Wiebes was beaten in two sprints this week, first by Balsamo in Stage 1 and then by Charlotte Kool in Stage 3. It’s notable because the last time Wiebes was bested in a sprint this season was by Kool in February at the UAE Tour. Since then the European champion has been the fastest woman on the road.
- Anna Henderson landed third in the overall, a good result for the Brit after a strong time trial. It was some consolation for Team Jumbo-Visma who held second overall until their leader Riejanne Markus crashed out of the stage on Saturday.
Saying goodbye to a legend
Van Vleuten didn’t manage to win the overall at the Simac Ladies Tour as she did in both 2017 and 2018, but as she said before the race it wasn’t her goal. Back in 2007, when it was the Holland Ladies Tour, a young Van Vleuten lined up for her first professional race. She would crash out of the first stage, DNFing the race, a far cry from the dominant rider we have had the privilege of watching over the years.
After the race concluded various people got up on stage and spoke about Van Vleuten. Tears were shed. Dances were danced. And a legend took her final bow.
Up next: Tour de Romandie, September 15-17
The final WWT race on European soil kicks off on Friday in Yverdon-les-Bains, Switzerland. The race consists of three road stages, all of which are pretty hilly, the second stage even features a fun little mountaintop finish.
There will definitely be some interesting riders lining up in Switzerland. Ashleigh Moolman Pasio, the winner of the 2022 edition, will hopefully be present. Perhaps even Tour de France Femmes winner Demi Vollering after she exited the Simac Ladies Tour early due to illness. As for Movistar, with Van Vleuten retired as of Sunday, leadership will pass to the German national champion Liane Lippert. It’s the dawn of a new age in women’s cycling.
A preview will be available here on Escape Collective prior to the start of the race, so if you’re keen for more information, come back soon.
It’s not the end of the season for the women, there is still a stage race and a one-day in China (both races have been cancelled for the last three seasons but have finally returned to the calendar for the 2023 season).
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