Race Report: Lloyds Bank Tour of Britain Women Stage 1

Written by: Neil Cormier
Posted 6 days ago

Lotte Kopecky (SD Worx-Protime) won the opening stage of the Lloyds Bank Tour of Britain Women in a close sprint finish against Letizia Paternoster (Liv ALUla Jayco). Rounding out the podium in third was Pfeiffer Georgi (dsm-firmenich PostNL).

Stage 1 was such a close finish that when Paternoster punched the air in victory, believing she had won the stage, many TV commentators and media people also believed she had won. It was only after several minutes passed and there was a closer look at the photo finish that it was revealed that Kopecky had actually won by less than a tire width.

How the race unfolded

The 142.4km from Welshpool to Llandudno featured 2,276m of climbing through some demanding hilly terrain in the heart of mid-Wales with two categorized climbs and a bonus Intermediate sprint.

Attacks were made before the first catgorized climb (Llangynog) began at around 55km, but none were able to stick and were brought back by the peloton before they were allowed any kind of significant gap.

Connie Hayes (Doltcini O’Shea) was the first to try her luck in getting a gap up the 6.1km climb, but she was checked by Elena Cecchini (SD Worx-Protime) and it was Heidi Franz (Lifeplus Wahoo) who took maximum QoM points, followed by Margot Vanpachtenbeke (VolkerWessels) and Lizzie Deignan (GB Cycling Team).

With 70km left, a small group of riders escaped from the peloton, including Katia Ragusa (Human Powered Health), Millie Couzens (Great Britain Cycling Team), Amber Pate (Liv Alula Jayco), Valeria Demey (Volkerwessels Pro Cycling Team), Barbara Guarischi (SD Worx-Protime) and Franziska Koch (Team DSM-Firmenich PostNL). This breakaway was short-lived and brought back by the peloton in less than 10km.

At 61km to go, as the larger group was brought back, Lucy Harris (Pro-Noctis-200 ° Coffee-Hargreaves Contracting) decided to try to go off on her own. She increased her gap on the peloton by a minute, earning her the Combativity Award for the day, but was brought back by a group that would eventually form the winning break of the day.

It was Pfeiffer Georgi (Team dsm-firmenich PostNL) who ignited the winning break with her attack on the 2nd categorized climb in her attempt to win the second QoM. Chased by the Great Britain Cycling Team of Lizzie Deignan and Anna Henderson, Georgi lost out on taking the QoM, but was instrumental in splitting the peloton that formed the winnning break of Letizia Paternoster (Liv-Alula-Jayco), Kopecky (SD Worx-Protime) Majerus (SD Worx-Protime) Victore Guilman (St Michel – Mavic – Auber93), Ruby Roseman-Gannon (Liv-Alula-Jayco) and Eline Jansen (Volkerwessels). This group would quickly take a lead of more than a minute over the climb and down the descent.

With a comfortable gap of more than 2 minutes, the lead group contested the Intermediate sprint with Paternoster outsprinting Kopecky for the bonus seconds, followed by Georgi in third.

As the lead group raced towards the finish in Llandudno, with less than 15km left, they had plenty of time to play cat and mouse and try to attack, but no one was able to make anything stick. In the final kilometers, riders began to set up for the sprint with a carfeul eye on the SD Worx-Protime sprint team of Kopecky and Majerus.

With a kilometer to go, Majerus began to position and ready herself to lead out her teammate Kopecky, with Paternoster following closely on Kopecky’s wheel. At around 200m to go, Kopecky launched her sprint with Paternoster right behind her, then with less than 100m to go, Paternoster came around Kopecky, pulled even with her, and both threw their bikes at the line.

The finish was so close that several minutes passed before Kopecky was was given the win ahead of Paternoster.

Afterwards, Kopecky said she wasn’t sure if she had won or Paternoster.

“I made a couple of mistakes in the sprint myself. But then when it came to the line it was like, okay, I can only do one more thing and just make the best jump I can. Once we crossed the finish line, Letizia raised her hands, but I was thinking ‘I’m not sure I won, but then I’m also not sure you won.'”

Kopecky’s victory gives her the lead in the general classification and the sprinter’s jersey, while her SD Worx-ProTime team leads in the team classification. Deignan secured the Queen of the Mountains jersey.

RESULTS

Lloyds Bank Tour of Britain Women Stage 1

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