Canyon//SRAM Racing’s Kasia Niewiadoma won the OVO Energy Women’s Tour’s first hill-top finish at Burton Dassett Country Park, Warwickshire, on Wednesday. The Polish rider, who won the 2017 race, outsprinted Team Sunweb’s Liane Lippert after the duo had broken away from the peloton with Elisa Longo Borghini (Trek-Segafredo) on the first of three ascents of Burton Dassett.
Longo Borghini’s team-mate Lizzie Deignan finished third on the stage, while German rider Lippert replaces her compatriot Lisa Brennauer (WNT-Rotor ProCycling) in the OVO Energy green jersey of race leader with just two stages in Wales to come.
Speaking after taking the victory on a rain-lashed final ascent, Niewiadoma, said, “Once I saw all the stage details I knew this one was for me. I really like this kind of climb – short, punchy; hills where I can really make an advantage over the others. I knew I needed to be there and have a great position at the bottom of the climb and then see what happens.
“I felt like a piece of crap, I felt so bad because of the rain and cold. But once you attack you go into this weird suffering mode, you forget about everything and you just want to get to the line first.
“Once I crossed the finish line, I thought about this morning’s conversation with my boyfriend [professional rider Taylor Phinney] because he woke up and told me I was going to win today. He doesn’t say that often. I thought: ‘OK, he believes in me.”
Lippert moves into the OVO Energy Green jersey, although on equal time with Niewiadoma, and was surprised to take the lead.
“I was already on the team bus when I heard I was in the leader’s jersey and I had to climb off and everyone was cheering for me, it was funny.
“I went all out and saw Kasia in front of me. I tried to get closer but she was super strong and I’m happy with my second place. I first need to realise what just happened. I’m in the leader’s jersey now and it’s my first UCI Women’s WorldTour podium finish ever. I have a really strong team. Now I’m in the jersey but we’ll see. I hope to[win the overall], I will try my best.”
A trio of riders – Charlotte Becker (FDJ Nouvelle Aquitaine-Futuroscope), Femke Markus (Parkhotel Valkenburg) and last year’s Warwickshire winner Sarah Roy (Mitchelton-SCOTT) – built an eight-minute lead. Becker was the first to lose contact from the front on the day’s second SKODA Queen of the Mountains climb with Markus and Roy being caught before the second passage of the finish line at Burton Dassett.
Roy’s efforts earned her the Wahooligan Combativity Award, while Niewiadoma’s victory moves her to within a point of Christine Majerus (Boels Dolmans)in the SKODA Queen of the Mountains jersey.
Both the Eisberg Sprints jersey and HSBC UK British Cycling Best British Rider jersey remained on the shoulders of Coryn Rivera (Team Sunweb) and Lizzie Deignan (Trek-Segafredo) going into stage five.
The OVO Energy Women’s Tour moves to Wales for stage five on Friday 14 June with Powys hosting the penultimate stage of the race from Llandrindod Wells to Builth Wells. Supported by the Welsh Government, the 140-kilometre (87-mile) route through Powys – the first time the county has welcomed the Women’s Tour – features the SKODA Queen of the Mountains climbs of Gorddwr Bank and Pennau along its unrelenting course.
The total elevation gain of 2,206 metres makes stage five of this year’s race the hardest in the event’s history.