Anna van der Breggen won stage five of the Boels Rental Ladies Tour on Saturday. At the end of an undulating stage, a two-up sprint between the Olympic champion and Ladies Tour general classification leader Annemiek van Vleuten (Orica-Scott) determined the stage winner. Van der Breggen was first through the last corner and retained the lead until the finish line. With her stage win, she moved up into second place overall.
"Today was a really nice stage," said Van der Breggen. "It was quite a long stage, with the most undulating parts in the second half of the stage."
Stage five offered the first hills in the 2017 Boels Ladies Tour. The course went steadily uphill from the start in Stramproy until the finish line in Vaals, where a local lap would have to be completed twice. The lap featured some short and steep climbs, and the stage totaled at 140 kilometres.
The intentions of Boels-Dolmans Cycling Team were clear right as the start sign was given, with several riders attacking. Luxembourgish champion Christine Majerus was the first to try and created a little gap with Thea Thorsen (Team Hitec), but the peloton didn't let them go.
"Christine and Amalie [Dideriksen] tried to get into a breakaway at the start of the stage," said Van der Breggen. "They stayed at the front and tried several times. A little later into the stage, Amy [Pieters] and Chantal [Blaak] tried to create a good group to escape with. They were off the front several times, but eventually it all came back together."
The steady pace and the constant up and down throughout the day eventually led the peloton to get reduced to only 30 riders. Boels-Dolmans had three riders in the selection: Blaak, Pieters and Van der Breggen.
"I tried to use the climb on the last lap to escape," said Van der Breggen. "Unfortunately, Annemiek bridged towards me. Since Amy and Chantal were still in the group behind, we decided to give that another chance. When I tried again, we were soon in the exact same situation. We then decided to go for the stage win today."
The duo was kept at 30 seconds from the peloton for a while, but at the finish line, their advantage had increased to 48 seconds. Pieters won the bunch sprint for third.
"After Anna and Annemiek had attacked, some riders still tried to close the gap, but it was obvious that it had been a tough day," Pieters said. "CANYON//SRAM chased for a while, but we didn't get any closer. We knew that Anna had a good chance of winning the stage at that point."
Boels-Dolmans takes to the start of the last stage in the Boels Rental Ladies Tour with three riders in the top seven overall. Van der Breggen holds second place at 43 seconds from Van Vleuten and 20 seconds ahead of Ellen van Dijk (Team Sunweb) in third place. Blaak and Pieters are in sixth and seventh place respectively.
"There are three of us who can still go for the GC and it was nice that we have all tried at some points today," Van der Breggen concluded. "Tomorrow is going to be another tough stage with plenty of new opportunities for us."