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Liane Lippert (Movistar Team) swept past Fem Van Empel (Team Jumbo Visma) to take the final stage of the Tour de Romandie Féminin on Sunday, landing her first win since victory on stage 2 of the Tour de France Femmes Avec Zwift.
The German national champion timed her move to perfection, with Van Empel holding on for second and Silvia Persico (UAE Team ADQ) taking third.
“I did already on the climb a lot of attacking, and I felt really strong,” she said, explaining how she knew she was on a good day. “I had a great team that covered all the moves so I could really relax and only focus on the fast sprinters. I think I had a good eye for the sprint and confidence in myself, and also I really felt that the team had confidence in me.”
Race leader Demi Vollering (Team SD Worx) finished sixth on the stage, one place ahead of Kasia Niewiadoma (Canyon-SRAM Racing), her closest rival. The duo had started the day just six seconds apart and despite a number of attacks by Niewiadoma, Vollering’s close attention and the relatively uncomplicated course made it impossible for the Polish rider to get a lasting gap.
“It is really nice. In this moment I feel a bit tired because today was a really hard day. It was a big, big battle still for GC and for the stage win, so we needed to be very alert and also really smart to think about what we could close or not.”
Aside from Niewiadoma at six seconds, there were eight other riders within a minute and half of her.
“Still today so much can happen. If Juliette Labous or someone else in the GC rides away and you cannot close it, then you can still lose the GC, for example,” she continued. “That’s something you don’t want to happen, so you need to be very alert the whole day.”
The stage from Vernier to Nyon saw several attacks but while riders such Neve Bradbury (Canyon-SRAM Racing), Mavi García (Liv Racing TeqFind) and Mireia Benito (AG Insurance – Soudal Quick-Step) made big efforts to stay out front, nothing was being allowed to stick.
Things started getting more serious with 35km to go when Niewiadoma kicked clear. While she was caught soon afterwards, a surge in pace by Lippert on the Le Molard climb with 30km to go dragged her, Vollering and Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig (FDJ-Suez) clear, with Niewiadoma trying to push on alone soon afterwards but being reeled in by the vigilant race leader.
This front group gradually grew in size as the riders returned after the hills. Various moves were fired off, including a short-lived one by Uttrup Ludwig and by Elise Chabbey (Canyon-SRAM Racing) with 20km remaining, plus a 4km solo effort by Tour de France Femmes Avec Zwift stage winner Ricarda Bauernfeind (Canyon-SRAM Racing) which was reeled in Marlen Reusser (Team SD Worx) with 8km to go.
Another move by Steffi Häberlin (Swiss Cycling) was ultimately unsuccessful, with Lippert emerging the best in the final sprint to the line.
Tour de Romandie Féminin stage 2: Vollering outsprints Niewiadoma to seize stage, overall lead
Tour de France Femmes champion Demi Vollering (SD Worx) raced into the overall lead of the Tour de Romandie Féminin on Saturday, winning the mountainous second stage ahead of Kasia Niewiadoma (Canyon-SRAM).
The Team SD Worx rider notched up her first victory since the Tour, driving the pace on the final climb, pushing ahead with Niewiadoma and then marking the Polish rider inside the last kilometers in the hope that her teammate Marlen Reusser could return and take a home win.
Niewiadoma drove hard to ensure Reusser wouldn’t get across, but had little left for the final sprint, rolling in two seconds down.
“It was a really nice day, and perfect team tactics because we could really gamble,” Vollering said. “I was really gambling for Marlen that she could come back because it would be nice that she could win here. But she didn’t make it, and I could win the sprint from Kasia in the end. I was really happy to take the win.”
Vollering is from the Netherlands but spends a lot of time in Switzerland. She has an ongoing connection to the country but Reusser is herself Swiss. She comes from Jegenstorf, just over 60km from the stage start, and so winning would have meant a lot.
Vollering hopes that her teammate might yet have success. “We still have one day to go, so who knows what is going to happen tomorrow,” she said.
As a sprinter, stage one winner Sofia Bertizzolo (UAE Team ADQ) was always destined to lose the race lead on Saturday’s stage. She struggled early on and was distanced, the tight time gaps meaning the stage winner would almost certainly take over at the top too.
Bertizzolo’s teammate Silvia Persico, Anna Shackley (Team SD Worx) and Amber Kraak (Team Jumbo-Visma) attacked inside the final 30km and while Kraak slid back with 12m to go, the other two persisted until just under 6km remaining.
Vollering then hit the gas inside the final 4km, drawing Niewiadoma clear and ultimately winning out when it came down to a sprint.
The WorldTour event concludes on Sunday with a lumpy 131.9km stage to Nyon. It includes four third-category climbs but then a downhill to flat run in to the line, making a large group sprint possible.
With time bonuses factored in, Vollering is six seconds clear of Niewiadoma and 12 in front of Reusser.
“Of course the goal is to win it as a team, so if I can keep it [the jersey] it is good,” she said. “But it would be also nice if Marlen can win tomorrow, of course. Let’s see how it goes. The most important thing is that the jersey stays with the team.”
Niewiadoma will keep trying, even if she would prefer harder terrain on Sunday. Her last victory was in 2019, but a huge number of second and third places shows success is long overdue.
Tour de Romandie Féminin stage 1: Bertizzolo denies Schrempf’s audacious attack
Sofia Bertizzolo (UAE ADQ) denied Carina Schrempf (Fenix-Deceuninck) with a surging late acceleration to win the opening stage of the Tour de Romandie Féminin.
Bertizzolo blazed past Schrempf after the Austrian made an audacious solo attack 3km from the line and nipped victory by centimeters in what was a heartbreaker final.
Both Bertizzolo and second-place Schrempf looked like they could barely believe the result at the line, particularly after the latter suffered the agony of seeing her half-formed victory celebration rudely derailed.
Mischa Bredewold (SD Worx) finished third on podium.
Oh man, it’s so so close on the line!
— Mathew Mitchell (@MatMitchell30) September 15, 2023
The sprinters saw their best chance at a win on Friday’s lightly lumpy profile.
A mountaintop finish and more complicated classics style stage loom on the horizon this weekend and limit opportunities for a bunch kick.
Clara Honsinger (EF Education TIBCO-SVB) was given room to go solo through the opening hours of the stage before she was reeled back in ahead of an explosive final 40km.
Kasia Niewiadoma, Elise Chabbey (both Canyon-SRAM), and Marlen Reusser (SD Worx) were among a flurry of attackers to try their luck on the final collection of climbs, and moves from Jumbo-Visma and DSM-Firmenich added to the aggression.
Mavi Garcia (Liv Racing Teqfind) was part of a dangerous group that briefly got clear inside the final 10km, but the peloton wasn’t letting it get far.
Jumbo-Visma drilled the massed group into the finish in Yverdon-les-Bains.
Schrempf launched her all-or-nothing charge out of a sweeping bend inside the final 3km, and the Austrian held a beyond-belief lead over the charging peloton through the complicated run in to the line.
Schrempf hit the final hundred meters with the bunch breathing just meters over her shoulder.
The 28-year-old looked seconds away from the tightest of victories and pulled up from her handlebars, mid-victory salute. But Bertizzolo’s stunning surge out of the peloton pipped Schrempf at the line in what was the ultimate heartbreaker final.
Niewiadoma, Demi Vollering (SD Worx), Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig (FDJ Suez), Ashleigh Moolman Pasio (AG Insurance Soudal Quick Step), and Elisa Longo Borghini (Lidl Trek) will see their chances Saturday in the 11km summit finish on Torgon in the Tour de Romandie Féminin.