Amy Pieters finished just outside the podium in stage two of the Boels Ladies Tour on Wednesday, crossing the line in the red combativity jersey behind winner Kirsten Wild (Cylance Pro Cycling). Maria Giulia Confalonieri (Lensworld-Kuota) and Lisa Brennauer (Canyon-SRAM) finished second and third in the stage. Annemiek van Vleuten (Orica-Scott) remains the overall leader.
“It was a calm stage with a hectic final today,” said Pieters. Stage two consisted of a 132.8-kilometre road race from Eibergen to Arnhem, with a local lap to entertain the local crowds.
The stage was off the fast start with a lot of riders wanting to make the break of the day. No one was given any leeway, until Japanse road champion Eri Yonamine (FDJ-Futuroscope-NA) attacked after 20 kilometres. She opened up a gap and extended her advantage to almost half a minute very quickly. It seemed the peloton was fine with the solo leader off the front.
The 30 seconds Yonamine had on the peloton became a minute, a minute and a half, until she had accumulated a two-minute advantage 46 kilometres into the stage. It was the sign for some riders in the peloton to react and Ilona Hoeksma (Team Hitec) and Winanda Spoor (Lensworld-Kuota) escaped the peloton in an attempt to bridge across.
Eventually, they did, but it took them until kilometre 80 to join Yonamine at the front. The trio cooperated well and as they arrived in Arnhem for the 18.7-kilometre local lap, they still had a gap of just under a minute on the bunch.
But with the peloton closing in on them, Yonamine launched another attack at 15 kilometres from the line. She briefly led solo again, but she couldn’t prevent the peloton from reeling her back in, which it did at two kilometres from the finish line. The teams prepared for a bunch sprint.
“The team really helped me out, but it was such a hectic final that we lost each other in the final kilometres,” Pieters said. “Eventually, we found each other again, but because of a crash and the chaos, I left it too late to start my sprint. Fortunately, I was able to pass a few, but my chances for a victory or podium were gone. I secretly hoped I had beaten Lisa, but unfortunately that wasn’t the case.”
The weather wasn’t as bad as predicted and it led to a quiet day. “We couldn’t really make the difference as a team today,” Pieters said. “We hoped that there would have been more wind in the early parts of the stage, but it was quite calm. In a flat stage like this, we would have liked the weather to have been worse.”
“I appreciate the trust I have been given by the team today to sprint for the stage,” Pieters concluded. “I’m thankful to my teammates for their help. I wish I could have finished it off with a win.”