Ellen van Dijk moved up to sixth overall following her part in a successful late race escape on stage two of Thüringen Rundfahrt. The Dutchwoman made her move on the final climb of the 103-kilometre stage in and around Erfurt.
“I’m really happy with how the legs felt today,” said Van Dijk. “To come over the last climb with the top climbers is for me really good. It was hard stage -- I hope it was hard for everyone. It’s only the second day, so it doesn’t mean so much for the rest of the tour. Of course you want to have a good feeling when you do this race in preparation for Rio and today I had a really good feeling.”
The second stage of Thüringen Rundfahrt could generously be described as lumpy. Sharp, steep hills were spread throughout the route.
“The race today was up and down,” said Van Dijk. “There were some hard attacks on the second climb, and that was a little bit challenging, but in the end, the bunch stayed together until the last climb.”
The final climb topped out 10 kilometres from the finish. Van Dijk knew position leading into the climb would be critical.
“The last climb was a really steep one,” she noted. “It was a bit more than one kilometre with 13 percent average. Romy [Kasper] brought me in good position to start the climb.”
Annemiek van Vleuten (ORICA-BikeExchange) jumped from the base of climb. The attack sparked a reaction from Van Dijk.
“Annemiek got a gap immediately and I followed her,” said Van Dijk. “I tried to bridge the gap on the climb. Moolman Paiso (Bigla-Cervelo) and Longo Borghini (Wiggle High5) joined on, so on the top we were four.”
The quartet was unable to settle into a cooperative rhythm, which limited the advantage they were able to take over the chase in their wake. Three kilometres later, a group of five had joined forces with the four out front. Seven kilometres from the finish, nine riders, including overnight race leader Marianne Vos (Rabo-Liv), had made the elite selection.
“Zabelinskaya (BePink) escaped, and I was looking for Wiggle and ORICA, who both had two with Longog Borghini and Johansson for Wiggle and Van Vleuten and Spratt for ORICA to chase but both didn’t do anything,” said Van Dijk. “It was just Marianne, me and also Moolman I think who kind of chased a little bit in the end.”
With a disorganised chase behind her, Zabelinskaya managed to hold off the peloton and solo to the stage win and into the race leader’s jersey. Vos won the chase group’s eight-up sprint for second place. Van Dijk, fourth from her group, managed fifth place on the stage.
Thüringen Rundfahrt continues tomorrow with a 114-kilometre day in Altenburg.
“I’m looking day by day, so I haven’t yet seen what to expect for tomorrow,” noted Van Dijk. “I think it will also be a hard stage and the day after will be a time trial, which is important for a lot of girls, also for me. Today a lot of girls were testing out their legs on the climb so probably tomorrow also they will be. I don’t know the stage exactly, but I think it should be hard.”