Lizzie Deignan claimed her first victory since returning from maternity leave in Friday’s fifth OVO Energy Women’s Tour stage in Builth Wells, Powys, to move into the race lead with just one stage remaining.
Deignan, the race’s 2016 champion, out-sprinted Thursday’s stage victor Kasia Niewiadoma (Canyon//SRAM Racing) and her Trek-Segafredo team-mate Elisa Longo Borghini in the Royal Welsh Showground after the trio broke clear on the day’s final SKODA Queen of the Mountains climb of Eypnt with approximately 22 kilometres remaining.
“I can’t quite really describe it; it was probably the nicest win I’ve had in a very long time. I really savoured it and really enjoyed it and I will do for a long time,” said Deignan on taking her first win in 657 days.
The Yorkshire rider leads Niewiadoma by just one second going into Saturday’s finale in Carmarthenshire, with Boels Dolmans rider Amy Pieters a further31 seconds in arrears. In addition to retaining her lead in the HSBC UK | British Cycling Best British Rider jersey, Deignan also moves to the top of the standings in the Breast Cancer Care points jersey.
Niewiadoma’s efforts on the climbs see her take the lead in the SKODA Queen of the Mountains jersey, while 2018 overall champion Coryn Rivera (Team Sunweb) retains the Eisberg sprints jersey.
Overnight race leader Liane Lippert (Team Sunweb) finished 22nd, losing two minutes and 19 seconds to fall away in the overall classification and lose her OVO Energy green jersey.
The German had been in the main pack featuring all of the general classification contenders approaching the final SKODA Queen of the Mountains climb of Epynt, before the race was sparked into life by the aggressive riding of Trek-Segafredo duo Deignan and Longo Borghini.
That saw the final two riders from the day’s breakaway, Erica Magnaldi (WNT – Rotor Pro Cycling) and Amalie Dideriksen (Boels Dolmans), reeled in and the chasing pack splintered, with just 20 riders reaching the Royal Welsh Showground within two minutes of Deignan.
“It was instinctive,” said Deignan on her attack. “It wasn’t the plan but I kept looking over at Lisa [teammate Longo Borghini] and noticed she was looking back at me and at one moment I just thought go on then we’ll give it a try. I went and Kasia [Niewiadoma] took over then. Her takeover was much stronger than my initial attack and I kind of survived with them two over the top and we worked together then until the finish.”
First over the summit of the Epynt climb moved Niewiadoma into the SKODA Queen of the Mountains climb, with a one-point advantage over previous incumbent Christine Majerus (Boels Dolmans).
“Hannah Barnes was pacing pretty hard from the bottom of the climb” said Niewiadoma. “It was funny because when I wanted to attack, then Lizzie went, so we kind of went at the same time. We continued and at the top of the climb there were three of us: Elisa [Longo Borghini], Lizzie and myself. From then on we tried to go full gas.
“Tomorrow is going to be the final battle. I’m actually pretty excited and curious to see how it’s going to be because of course Trek has a strong team and they’re going to control the race from the start. Although there are so many teams eager to fight and split the race, we’ll see.”