With the final weekend of the Healthy Aging Tour coming up, Boels-Dolmans Cycling Team occupies the entire top four of the GC after three days. The victory in the team time trial on Friday afternoon ensured that there are now three teammates behind leader Amy Pieters in the overall classification.
Anna van der Breggen stands in second place, 27 seconds down, world champion Chantal Blaak is currently third at 32 seconds and Luxembourg champion Christine Majerus closes the quartet, 54 seconds down on Pieters. The number five in the GC, Kirsten Wild, is already 48 seconds down on Majerus.
The team time trial was the second stage on a double day. Stage 3a in the morning was a short 66-kilometer road race. A group of five riders, who were not dangerous for the GC, were allowed to get off the front.
Four of them were eventually caught back well before the finish. Only Mieke Kröger (Team Virtu) remained up front and tried to time trial her way to the finish. But together with Wiggle-High5 and Canyon-SRAM, Boels-Dolmans slowly reeled her back in.
The bunch sprint that followed was won by Wild, with a nice strong place for Majerus. Pieters' leader position had not been in danger, but Pieters admits that it’s hard work to hold the leader’s jersey.
"It's very tough to race here," she said. "It may seem easy, but I’ve not had an easy day here."
Boels-Dolmans Cycling Team was the last to start the 17.5-kilometer team time trial with the yellow leader’s jersey around Pieters’ shoulders. The competition was smashed, by setting the best time with a 52-second advantage on the number two, Team Virtu.
"It's almost a minute, but that’s because they rode really fast," said Pieters. "It just went very smoothly."
“This morning has been a hard stage as well, so you really feel your legs," explained Pieters about how she digesting the stage race so far. "Yesterday had already been a tough day as well, but you have to continue anyway. Fortunately, you don’t have much time to think during a team time trial, "she joked.
With such a wide margin, Pieters has the leader's jersey firmly on her shoulders, but the down-to-earth Dutchie doesn't get overexcited yet. "Let's await tomorrow first, tomorrow is also a long day," she said. "I hope we get through well, then we can start to look forward to Sunday."
"I am satisfied with how things are going at the moment, but the whole team is very strong, so we have a lot of confidence going into the races," she continued. "That’s why I very much look forward to the weekend stages.”
The fact that the entire podium is now filled by Boels-Dolmans is a bonus, but not the main goal, Pieters clearly stated after the stage.
"The biggest goal is to maintain the leadership position," she said. "We have only succeeded once we cross the finish line in Groningen on Sunday. We shouldn’t get light-headed about the task ahead of us, now we had such a great couple of days.”
The Healthy Aging Tour will continue tomorrow with the Queen stage of 140+ kilometers. The race will once again be livestreamed on Podium.TV.