Great Britain’s Lizzie Deignan became the first rider to win two OVO Energy Women’s Tour titles as she sealed the 2019 crown at Pembrey Country Park,Carmarthenshire, on Saturday.
The Trek Segafredo rider, who only returned to racing in late April following maternity leave, finished eighth in a reduced bunch sprint to pip Kasia Niewiadoma (Canyon//SRAM Racing) to the overall crown by two seconds – the smallest winning margin in race history.
Dutch rider Amy Pieters (Boels Dolmans) claimed the final stage, beating Leah Kirchmann (Team Sunweb) and Roxane Fournier (Movistar Team) to the line. Pieters placed third overall, 23 seconds behind Deignan, while her team-mate Christine Majerus finished fifth to cap a successful week for the Dutch team.
Speaking afterwards Deignan said, “It means a huge amount. I think the last time I came here I was probably one of the favourites to win the race – this time I wasn’t a favourite, so it was a different experience. It was totally a team experience.
“I won through just grit and determination. I’m away from my daughter for a reason. I’m here to do a job and I’ve got a fantastic team around me. I don’t want to let them down.
“It’s a huge honour. I’m just delighted, lost for words really. The perspective you gain from having a year out of the sport is amazing. My attitude is just about enjoying it, I’ve never had that attitude before and it’s really paying dividends. I’m in the best team in the world I feel like from a support perspective and just the women around me just lift me up.”
Deignan crossed the line in eighth position in the 33-rider front group to take victory, having doubled her overnight one-second lead thanks to a mid-race time bonus from the Eisberg Sprint at Penygroes. As well as the OVO Energy Green jersey the Trek Segafredo rider takes the Breast Cancer Care Points jersey through her consistent finishing across the six stages, and the HSBC UK British Cycling Best British Rider jersey.
The stage win for Pieters was her third in OVO Energy Women’s Tour history, being added to previous victories in Stratford-upon-Avon (2016) and Stoke-on-Trent(2017). With Majerus and double stage victor Jolien D’hoore providing the perfect lead-out, the Dutchwoman was delighted with the win.
“The plan was to try to win the stage,” said Pieters. “I think we had a good plan and a good week with the whole team, so I think we need to be happy with this.
“The girls did a really strong lead-out for me and I’m happy that I could finish it off. I felt really good today and I’m happy with that because it was a really hard week and I’m happy that the last day I was still good.”
Defending OVO Energy Women’s Tour champion Coryn Rivera (Team Sunweb) took the Eisberg Sprints jersey for a second year, getting into a group of 11 riders that broke away early on the Carmarthenshire route to seal the jersey at the first intermediate Eisberg sprint.
The final classification jersey went to Warwickshire summit finish winner Niewiadoma, who withstood the challenge of Majerus for a one-point advantage in the SKODA Queen of the Mountains jersey, while the aggressive riding of Sarah Roy (Mitchelton Scott) was rewarded with the Wahooligan Combativity Award.