Megan Guarnier moved up to fourth overall following stage two of Ladies Tour of Norway, 17-seconds down on race leader Marianne Vos (WM3 Energie) and tied on time with Ellen van Dijk (Sunweb) in third.
The 140-kilometre stage ended in a bunch sprint in Fredrikstad won by Chloe Hosking (Alé Cipollini). Luxembourgish champion Christine Majerus was the best-placed Boels-Dolmans rider on Staurday, slotting into 15th place.
The finish was disrupted by a bridge crossing that held up first the late race breakaway and then the peloton. Kasia Pawlowska was part of a four-rider escape that slipped up the road in the final 20-kilometres. The quartet managed a maximum advantage of 50-second over the peloton.
The gap was down to 23-seconds when the group was stopped at the rising bridge with five kilometres remaining. Per UCI rules, because the gap was under 30-seconds, the breakaway was not given an advantage when the race re-started.
“When we stopped at the bridge, we knew it wasn’t a good thing for us,” said van den Bos. “We hoped that the breakaway might still get the seconds they had when we stopped, but we knew, even then, it wouldn’t be the same. While we understand the rule, we don’t find it fair that for a UCI Women’s WorldTour there would be a disruption like this in the final. You would think that they could arrange that the bridge would not open in the last 30 minutes while we were racing.
“We obviously felt sorry for Kasia but also for the team,” van den Bos added. “When we started as one bunch, it was obvious that we would race for Christine, but it was hard to find each other in the chaotic five kilometres that were left.”
Before the bridge drama, Boels-Dolmans put in a solid performance. Several times the race split in the crosswinds, and Boels-Dolmans always had a numerical advantage. In the second intermediate sprint, Guarnier pocketed three bonus seconds in support of her general classification ambitions.
“It is never really calm here in Norway,” noted van den Bos. “The bunch is super chaotic. It’s true that the race wasn’t hard in the beginning, and we made it easier for ourselves by staying at the front and on the right-side of the peloton with whole team. This meant we didn’t have to wasted energy fighting for position.
“When the race split the first time, we had five of six girls in the front,” van den Bos added. “When the speed when done, we didn’t take initiative because one of our riders was stopped due to a crash. She hadn’t crashed herself but she had gotten caught behind a crash.”
As the peloton headed toward the finish for three times around the 5.8-kilometre Fredrikstad city centre circuit, a group of three riders escaped. The move was neturalised before the first passage of the finish line, which doubled as the third intermediate sprint. Shortly after the sprint, Pawlowska and company forced clear up the road.
“We were super happy with the move,” said van den Bos. “Kasia is always working so hard for the team, and we know she is super strong right now. We were 100 percent confident that she would win the sprint. We were even trying to let the bunch go slower so the gap would get bigger.”
The bridge crossing nullified the gap and eliminated Pawlowska’s opportunity.
“It was a weird last five kilometres,” said van den Bos. “We cannot blame anyone and we cannot blame ourselves. We did our very best to find each other, but in a five-kilometre long sprint, it's very hard. Of course we are all super disappointed, but it's not about the sprint. We knew we had a great chance with the breakaway with Kasia. She would have done great."
“The only good thing is that everybody passed the finish safely,” van den Bos added. “I hope we can get our anger switched to a lot of motivation for tomorrow. The team here is a strong, and we want a result that reflects that.”