Race leader Chantal Blaak finished safely in the bunch on stage three of the Energiewacht Tour to maintain her spot atop the general classification on Friday. A non-threatening early breakaway of six slipped away around 25 kilometres into the 131-kilometre stage and stayed away until the finish. With Vera Koedooder (Parkhotel Valkenburg) best-placed overall amongst the escapees, nearly five minutes down on Blaak, the situation was ideal for Boels-Dolmans ahead of Saturday’s double day.
“We had good communication, like always, so we knew directly that this break was okay for us,” said Blaak. “Of course, we needed to control the race a bit, so the gap wouldn’t be too big for the yellow jersey, but we were totally fine with the composition of that group.”
The peloton enjoyed a relatively calm day as the six up front collaborated to maintain their advantage.
“Today there was less wind than yesterday,” noted Blaak. “There were not so many opportunities to split in the crosswinds, so the bunch stayed together.”
“Today was ‘easy’ compared to yesterday,” Blaak added. “But I definitely could feel all the work from yesterday in my legs today!”
American Alie Dragoo (Team USA) took the stage three victory from the breakaway by two seconds over Julie Leth (Hitec Products). Dragoo’s teammate, Gretchen Stumhofer, rounded out the podium. Two minutes later, Amy Pieters (Wiggle High5) led the chasers home.
With three stages done, three stages still to race, Blaak maintains the yellow jersey with a six-second advantage over Ellen van DIjk. CANYON//SRAM’s Lisa Brennauer sits third overall at 11 seconds.
“I think this is the first time in my career that I started in a yellow jersey in a stage race,” said Blaak. “Yes, it’s a special feeling, and it makes me extra motivated to do well.”
Saturday could very well see a general classification shake-up as the peloton tackles the race’s double day – an abbreviated road stage in the morning followed by an individual time trial in the afternoon.
“A double day is hard,” noted Blaak. “You have to be extremely focused and ready to hurt. The first goal in the morning is to keep Ellen and me in as good position as possible in the general classification.”
“Then the time trial,” Blaak continued. “That can change everything! Ellen can do well as a time trial specialist, so for us, it’s good.”
“Personally, I don’t really know where I’m standing in the time trial at the moment,” Blaak added. “I’m maybe not the best in the time trial, but I think I can do well. It’s a challenge to see how well I can go. I’m looking forward to finding out.”