Chantal Blaak will head into the final stage of the Boels Rental Ladies Tour in the orange race leader’s jersey following an uneventful stage five that saw Boels-Dolmans Cycling Team successfully defend Blaak’s lead. Saturday’s stage ended in a bunch sprint in Tiel won by Lisa Brennauer (CANYON//SRAM).
“There was the idea was to do the sprint, but I didn’t have the legs today to mix it up in the sprint,” said Blaak. “The goal became stay safe and not get gapped on the finish line. We did that.”
The peloton largely stayed together over the narrow roads and dikes that featured in the penultimate stage. A trio of riders started the first local lap with slightly less than a minute on the peloton, but when the sprint trains came to fore, the gap quickly tumbled. With five kilometres left to race, the bunch had reabsorbed the escapees.
“Not very much happened today, but with the kind of wind we had today, something could happen anytime, so we were always together and always near the front,” said Blaak. “It was a hard day mentally because you have to always pay attention. I think we did it well.”
Boels-Dolmans enjoys an enviable general classification position, occupying the top three spots overall with five days done. Ellen van Dijk trails Blaak by 11 seconds in second place. Karol-Ann Canuel is third overall at 33 seconds. The best-place non-Boels Dolmans Cycling Team rider is Brennauer in fourth place at 40 seconds.
Sunday’s final stage heads to Holland’s hill and includes three times up the fearsome Cauberg. The final ascent of the Cauberg comes less than one kilometre from the finish line.
In a post-race interview, Blaak was asked if she feared the Cauberg.
Her response: “Afraid? Maybe a little. But we are in the lead and they should be afraid of us. It’s not going to be easy, but we can do it."