Boels-Dolmans Cycling Team’s Ellen van Dijk sprinted onto the stage three podium at Thüringen Rundfahrt to advance up the general classification ahead of tomorrow’s all-important individual time trial.
The 114-kilometre stage in and around Altenburg ended in a field sprint won by Marianne Vos (Rabo-Liv). Emma Johansson (Wiggle High5) edged out Van Dijk for best of the rest. Third on the stage, Van Dijk moved up to fourth overall, 29-seconds behind race leader Olga Zabelinskaya (Russia)
“Normally we would go for Chantal [Blaak] in the sprint, but she was in a breakaway for a long time today, so she said to me: ‘You sprint.’ and so I tried the best I could,” explained Van Dijk. “It was a very technical finish with cobbles. You had to be in a good position. I know I can’t beat Marianne in a sprint like that, but I think I did alright. She won quite easily. I was happy to get third today.”
Stage three of the German tour was characterised by numerous attacks over undulating roads. Kasia Pawlowska initiated a mid-race breakaway.
“Rabobank missed the move Kasia created, so they chased it back, which was a shame,” said Van Dijk. “But then Chantal made a move. It was a good group, and we were hoping it would stay away because Chantal could really win from it.”
Twenty kilometres from the finish, Blaak and her eight breakaway companions had nearly a minute on the peloton but when Russia gave chase, the gap tumbled and collaboration in the escape began to wane. Blaak, Gracie Elvin (ORICA-AIS) and Vita Heine (Norway) were the final hold-outs from the last escape of the day.
“Russia chased hard because of Zabelinskaya and in the end CANYON//SRAM bought it back,” said Van Dijk. “That’s when we prepared for a bunch sprint.”
With five stages still to race, including an individual time trial in Zeulenrodaer Meer on Monday, Van Dijk is quick to point out the race is far from over. Still, she expects tomorrow’s time trial to be a decisive day.
“I don’t really know yet if I want to make a goal of the general classification,” said Van Dijk. “We need to see that after tomorrow. I tried not to lose any time these last three days, but it’s not that I go for intermediate sprints to gain one or two seconds.”
“I think tomorrow we will really see how things are standing and if it’s reasonable to go for the GC or stage wins,” she added. “I mean, maybe it’s also possible that we can do both. I don’t know. The time trial will clarify that.”
Only four Boels-Dolmans Cycling Team riders will pin on a number for the time trial tomorrow. Nikki Harris was a non-starter this week due to illness, and Demi de Jong pulled the plug today for the same reason.
“We’re down to four, which is not so much, but it’s four very strong girls,” said Van Dijk. “We’ll be alright.”