Charlotte Kool (Team DSM) took a “dream start” at this year’s Ford RideLondon Classique, darting to victory and the race lead on the first stage in Colchester.
The win marked the 24-year-old’s fifth of the season, and came from a 15-rider move which tore clear of the peloton inside the final 30km. With 200m to go, following an uphill lead-out from team-mate Pfeiffer Georgi, Kool sprung off the wheel of Clara Copponi (FDJ-Suez), putting three bike lengths into the Frenchwoman across the line.
Lizzie Deignan, a driving force at the front of the race, sprinted to third place, her best result since returning from maternity leave last month.
“It was an easy day from the beginning,” Kool said post-race, “and then in the final they went full racing. We had to adapt a bit, but we were with the right girls in front. We then had to finish it off. Pfeiffer did a perfect lead-out, so [it was a] dream start.
The Team DSM duo were among the key animators of the winning move which came with 28km remaining of the 150km stage.
Initially 13 riders strong, the group grew to 15 when, with 9km to go, Chloé Dygert (Canyon-Sram) bridged across from the peloton with her team-mate Maike van der Duin in tow. The bunch chased 30 seconds in arrears, but failed to make the catch.
“For us, actually, it was not really a problem if the rest came back, to be honest,” Kool said. “But I think it was nice to race a bit. It was a really nice final to race.”
Kool will now wear the leader’s jersey of the three-day RideLondon Classique on Saturday’s second stage, which continues through Essex, this time starting and finishing in Maldon.
Her victory on Friday came in the absence of former world champion Elisa Balsamo (Trek-Segafredo), who abandoned after crashing twice, and last year’s race winner, Lorena Wiebes (SD Worx), whose SD Worx team opted not to compete.
The Ford RideLondon Classique is the only Women’s WorldTour race in the UK this season, following the postponement of the Women’s Tour due to insufficient financial backing. The three-day event will conclude with a circuit race in central London this Sunday.
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