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The Dutch rider beat Marta Bastianelli (UAE Team ADQ) and Emma Norsgaard (Movistar) by several bike lengths to extend her lead in the general classification, while world champion Elisa Balsamo (Trek-Segafredo) finished outside the top five in the stage into Epping, Essex.
A solo breakaway from Veronica Ewers (EF Education-TIBCO-SVB) animated most of the stage, but the American was caught in the final 30km of the stage after a long lone effort.
“It was harder than yesterday,” Wiebes said at the finish. “We started quite easy, with one rider in the break, and we just started controlling. Then the time went out after the intermediate sprint.”
“We controlled it really well as a team, we were all the time in control, and in good positions on the climbs so there was nothing to stress about. The first time on the climb it was hard, but I was happy to stay in the right wheels and drive. I got lost a bit before the sprint but I found my way and timed it well.”
“I really felt the momentum to go today. It was a bit uphill, but I also like that so it was a good day on the bike.”
How it happened
Stage 2 got underway in Chelmsford on Saturday, with another foray into the rolling Essex countryside awaiting the peloton. Stage 1 winner Wiebes led the race overall at the start of the day, five seconds ahead of Balsamo.
Unlike on stage 1, the first attacks came early on stage 2 and it was Ewers who got away in the first 15km of racing. Jumbo-Visma had been active on the front, hoping to repeat Anna Henderson’s efforts from stage 1, but failed to place a rider up the road.
Ewers quickly gained an advantage of 40 seconds with the peloton not quite letting her go, but a crash in the bunch then put a stop to the drive to chase. With the peloton slowing as a result of the crash, Ewers’ lead then grew to over three minutes at the 30km completed mark. Meanwhile, one of the riders affected in the crash – Francesca Morgans-Slader (AWOL O’Shea) – abandoned the race.
In the peloton it was Team DSM who were driving hard, setting Wiebes up for the intermediate sprint and bonus seconds available at the 57km mark. Their efforts didn’t catch Ewers, who collected the maximum reward at the Great Dunmow sprint, but Wiebes won the sprint from the peloton to add two bonus seconds to her lead. Chiara Consonni (Valcar Travel & Service) took third. The pace in the run-in to the sprint briefly split the peloton, but things soon came back together.
Ewers held a lead of over 2 minutes when the race crossed the finish line in Epping for the second sprint, taking maximum points again. In the peloton, it was Wiebes versus Balsamo for the remaining points with the race leader very narrowly beating the world champion to take another two bonus seconds. At this point in the race, Wiebes’s GC advantage over Balsamo had reached eight seconds, giving her a good chance at retaining the leader’s jersey even if she did not take victory on the stage.
At the first of three categorised climbs in the closing circuits, Ewers took maximum points in the Queen of the Mountains classification but jersey-wearer Anna Henderson (Jumbo-Visma) took second, clearly motivated to defend her lead in the standings. With the pace increasing in the peloton as the race entered the final 40km, Ewers was eventually caught before the second categorised climb.
Henderson took maximum points on the second ascent of the Mount End climb, and with only one QoM remaining on the stage – and none on stage 3 – her efforts secured overall victory in the climbing classification, provided she finishes the race in London. Silvia Persico (Valcar Travel & Service) took the final points on the final QoM climb up Houblons Hill.
— Team Jumbo-Visma Women (@JumboVismaWomen) May 28, 2022
Crossing the finish line in Epping for the final time with 7km to go, the sprint trains were in full formation in preparation for the expected bunch finish. The slight rise to the line disrupted the trains somewhat, but it was stage 1 winner Wiebes who emerged as the fastest, beating second-place Bastianelli by multiple bike lengths, with Norsgaard again taking third.
Wiebes now leads the overall by 27 seconds, and leads the sprints classification. Anna Henderson added the best British rider jersey to her Queen of the Mountains lead, and Vittoria Guazzini (FDJ-Nouvelle Aquitaine-Futuroscope) retains her lead in the young rider classification.