A short circuit race served as the opener to the 29th edition of Thüringen Rundfahrt. The 67-kilometre stage ended in a bunch sprint won by Marianne Vos (Rabo-Liv). Dutchwoman Ellen van Dijk was the highest placed finisher for Boels-Dolmans Cycling Team in 17th place, crossing the finish line on bunch time, one second behind Vos.
“The finish was really dangerous,” said Kasper in reference to a downhill run-in, narrowing roads and cobbles in the final kilometre. “We were good together in the bunch, but with the crazy finale, we couldn’t come up and put Chantal [Blaak] in a good position. We didn’t have a chance to do the lead-out.”
Although Van Dijk was the fastest finisher in the sprint, Blaak is best placed on the general classification. She sits ninth overall at nine seconds, two seconds in front of most of the field.
“Chantal took some seconds in the first sprint,” Kasper explained. “It wasn’t part of the plan, but it’s always good to stay in the race if there is not so much happening.”
The intermediate sprints and mountain points inspired much of the action Friday night. There were two jerseys and a maximum of six seconds up for grabs on the road.
With few attacks and no breakaways over the short stage and mild route, a field sprint became the inevitable conclusion.
“It wasn’t as hilly as I expected today,” said Kasper. “The next days will be harder and hiller. They will also be warmer. It will make things more interesting.”