Luxembourgish champion Christine Majerus sprinted to third on the opening stage of the OVO Energy Women’s Tour on Wednesday. The 30-year-old won in Kettering two years ago and hoped to repeat the feat in the fourth edition of the British stage race. Kasia Niewiadoma (WM3 Energie) foiled these plans with a late race attack turned race winning move.
“Sprinting for second isn’t the same thing as sprinting for the win,” noted Majerus, who came second in the bunch kick to Niewiadoma’s teammate, Marianne Vos. “This is a stage I’ve won already, so I know how it’s done, but for second that last little bit of motivation was obviously missing.
“I was a bit too late going into the roundabout and then hesitated with launching or not,” she said. “I think I still did a good job with third in the end.”
While the first half of OVO Energy Women’s Tour stage one lacked action, it did not lack nerves.
“It was pretty quiet from an attacking point of view initially, but it was still pretty hectic in the bunch,” said Majerus. “The wind and the twisting roads always create stress. Amy [Pieters] was going for the intermediate sprint, and the rest of us just focused on the big attacks going and staying safe.”
Niewiadoma attacked with 48 kilometres of the 148 kilometre stage still to race. She immediately opened up her gap beyond the minute mark.
“Kaisa attacked solo and had a strong ride,” said Majerus. “Her win was absolutely deserved. Behind there wasn’t any organisation. At first it was a good situation for us because one rider is easier to handle chasing back than a bigger group, but it turned out that no team really wanted to contribute to the chase. We tried to put it in the gutter a few times to get things started, but no one really followed.”
The Polish champion reached the finish line in Kettering 1:47 ahead of the bunch.
“We’ll have to see what it means for the next stages,” said Majerus. “We’ll have a briefing at the hotel.”
Beyond the race action, Majerus noted two things that stood out on Wednesday.
“The crowds are always great in the Women’s Tour, and today was not different” she said. “It’s really nice to have so many people at the starts and finishes and along the roads.
“Also, the motorbikes were having a hard time passing the peloton today, but I think that’s mostly the responsibility of the riders,” Majerus added. “We should all give more space because they are there for our security. It’s worth losing a place to let them pass.”