Christine Majerus sprinted to a sixth place in stage four of the Boels Ladies Tour on Friday. The Luxembourg champion was the top Boels-Dolmans finisher after a hectic finish disrupted the sprint plans for Chantal Blaak. Lisa Brennauer (Canyon-SRAM) won the stage in a three-up sprint with Chloe Hosking (Ale Cipollini) and Roxane Fournier (FDJ-Futurscope-NA). Annemiek van Vleuten (Orica-Scott) slotted into ninth and retained her overall lead.
The fourth stage consisted of a 121.4-kilometre road race from Gennep to Weert. It was the first of the three stages in the province of Limburg that finish off the 2017 edition of the race, which carries our title sponsor’s name. The stage race was upgraded to Women’s WorldTour status.
“I don’t really see a difference now that the race is part of the Women’s WorldTour,” said Majerus. “It was already a well-organized race with high level, so they just keep doing their thing which is good to see.”
The stage had a fast start and although there were plenty of riders trying to get off the front, the most successful attempt, by Pernille Matthiessen (VeloConcept), only saw her in front of the peloton for five kilometres.
“We would have been okay with a non-dangerous breakaway to go up the road, even if it didn’t have a Boels-Dolmans rider in it,” Majerus said of the stage four strategy. “As soon as other big teams went out, we made sure to have someone in. But eventually nothing happened."
A complete bunch arrived in Weert for three local laps of 8.5 kilometres.
“The lap was technical, but not dangerous,” she said. “It was important to be well-positioned for the sprint, but also to save energy. We wanted to go for Chantal. It was a long sprint from the last corner and a fast one, so it would have been perfect for her, as long as we could bring her in a good position.”
“We did a good job until just before the S-bend, she lost my wheel there,” Majerus continued. “I hoped she would still be there, but it was so hectic that I didn’t really have a chance to look around. So I kept going, hoping she would come over and knowing I couldn’t do a proper sprint myself.”
Majerus had spent the majority of the stage in the position she knows best, pulling at the front of the peloton.
“Unfortunately, she got shuffled back, so it didn’t work out, but it’s worth trying,” Majerus concluded. “We do improve our sprint train and positioning with every time we try, I just hope we can soon finish it off in a fast finish like this one.”
Majerus eventually crossed the finish line in sixth place. Behind her, her three Dutch teammates all finished top 20 too. Although the top five of the GC didn't change following stage four, which means Anna van der Breggen remains in fourth, Blaak moved up one spot and is now sixth overall, while Amy Pieters jumped into the top ten.
“The next days are going to determinate the GC,” Majerus said. “Our Dutchies are all still in great position to get a super GC result and most of all they are strong and motivated, so we want to make sure they can realise their goals.”