Boels-Dolmans successfully defended Chantal Blaak’s orange race leader’s jersey on Boels Rental Ladies Tour stage four. Luxembourg champion Christine Majerus rode in the winning breakaway while her teammates controlled from behind to give Blaak an opportunity for a calm day in the bunch.
“It was really good that we had Christine in the break,” said Blaak. “We had a teammate to control in the breakaway and teammates to control in the back. It was perfect.”
Boels-Dolmans Cycling Team started the day with three riders in the top three overall. By stage end, the Dutch registered squad remained in the top three positions on the general classification with Blaak leading Ellen van Dijk by 11 seconds and Karol-Ann Canuel by 33 seconds.
“It was a fairly relaxed day,” said Van Dijk. “The hard work of Amalie [Dideriksen] and Lizzie [Armitstead] on the front allowed us to chill a little bit, which was nice after yesterday. We could shelter behind the whole time.”
The calm finish belied the chaotic start. Crosswinds and attacks made for aggressive opening kilometres.
“It was crazy in the beginning,” said Van Dijk. “No one wanted to be in the gutter. Everyone was fighting for position. You had to be alert.”
“And then that group went and everything settled down,” said Van Dijk. “We were happy with it.”
Amongst the 14 riders out front, Majerus was highest placed overall at nearly six minutes on the general classification.
“The gap for us could grow,” said Blaak. “We wanted to keep it at around five minutes. It’s good to have Christine back in the general classification with us.”
As the advantage extended, Armitstead and Dideriksen dutifully ticked off a steady tempo on the front of the peloton.
“We had to take on the work at the front or nobody else would ride at all,” Van Dijk. “Lizzie and Amalie rode on the front for about 60 kilometres. The gap was growing. They were rolling. It was all good.”
“We may not have wanted to sacrifice two people on the front, but it’s part of our luxury position,” Van Dijk added. “We have one-two-three in the classification. It makes sense why the others would not ride.”
Sarah Roy (ORICA-AIS) took the stage four win from the breakaway. Majerus finished in 12th place and jumped to sixth overall. Blaak, Van Dijk and Canuel finished in the peloton, 4:39 behind the breakaway.
“I had good legs but I picked the wrong wheel in the sprint,” said Majerus. “It was a stupid mistake. It’s frustrating.”
The Boels Rental Ladies Tour continues tomorrow in Tiel with a 116-kilometre stage.
“If it’s windy, we have echelons,” said Blaak. “It could be a dangerous day.”
“The gaps on the general classification are still big, and I think everyone is looking at the stage on Sunday, which is going to be hard,” added Van DIjk. “I still think we’ll need to be really attentive.”