Chantal Blaak was in the longest breakaway of the day and Ellen van Dijk took a late race flyer in a bid for solo glory at La Course by Le Tour. The 89-kilometre circuit race in the centre of Paris ultimately ended in a reduced bunch sprint won by Chloe Hosking (Wiggle High5).
“It was hectic,” said Blaak. “Lots of people taking lots of risks everywhere – and it was really fast.”
The women’s peloton stayed together over the first two laps of the 13 lap race. When Blaak spotted riders jumping up the road, she knew she needed in on the action.
“When you see Lucinda Brand (Rabo Liv) and Olga Zabelinskaya (BePink) attacking, you know it’s a good group,” noted Blaak. “It was also a good moment at the end of the Champs Élysées. It went a little bit up and around the roundabout. At the end of the Arc de Triomphe, I saw we had a gap, and then it made sense to ride full and see what happens.”
The trio were joined by British national champion Hannah Barnes (CANYON//SRAM) and traded pulls for two laps until the peloton overtook them.
“The race got more aggressive from there,” said Blaak. “People see us and think: ‘Maybe this is going to work to get a group up the road’ and everybody starts attacking.”
“But everyone wants to be in the break because there are only a few sprinters,” Blaak added. “It’s great to show the jersey and show a nice race and go for a win in another scenario than the sprint, but with everyone trying it, the speed behind is very, very high, which makes it hard to stay away.”
None of the breakaway attempts that followed would last longer than a lap. Two major crashes, one just before the start of the last lap and one mid-way through the final lap, thinned down the field. Romy Kasper and Kasia Pawlowska were involved in the bell lap crash. Christine Majerus was held up in the last lap incident.
“Crashes had an impact today, and not only the last two crashes,” said Blaak. “I don’t know why there were so many. The speed is high and the road is bumpy and people take risks for nothing. That’s the not so fun part of this race. I’m happy everybody is safe from our team.”
Van Dijk made her move in the tunnel around Place de la Concorde.
“I knew she was going to attack,” said Blaak. “Well, that was the plan, but also I could tell. And I thought: ‘whoa, this is going to be really hard to get a gap now.’ Then after the tunnel she had already 100 metres, and I was really surprised. She kept going until 350 metres. I think if it was not a headwind on the finish, she would have won.”
Instead, the sprinters commanded the spotlight. Blaak was the top finisher for Boels-Dolmans Cycling Team in 23rd piece.
“In the sprint, nothing for me,” said Blaak. “It was too hectic for me. I always have a hard time when it’s hectic this way because I’m not as good at taking risks.”
“The plan was to put me and Christine in a good position and then we’d help each other and see who was there in the end,” added Blaak. “But Christine was on the ground, everyone was on the ground, and it was just keep safe and ride as safely as possible to the finish.”