In the finale of stage 2 of the Tour de Romandie Féminin, Kasia Niewiadoma (Canyon-SRAM) was stuck between a rock and a hard place. She was the only one able to follow the pace of Demi Vollering (Team SD Worx) on the finishing climb to Torgon.
Over the last kilometres, Vollering did not push anymore, wanting her teammate Marlen Reusser to come back. However, Niewiadoma took over and ended up pulling Vollering to the finish line, where the SD Worx rider sprinted to the stage victory and GC lead. After the finish, Vollering even apologised to Niewiadoma.
“I don’t have the easy answer for it. I wasn’t stoked to be sandwiched by SD Worx again but if I stopped riding, I don’t believe Marlen or Demi would start pulling for me,” Niewiadoma explained.
“They would attack me one by one. I have been in that situation before. The final 2km were not steep enough to try to drop Demi from my wheel.”
Although she settled for second place and continued to wait for a win for more than four years, Niewiadoma could find solace in the performances of her teammates Antonia Niedermaier and Ricarda Bauernfeind.
Niedermaier led the peloton up the lower slopes of the finishing climb, then Bauernfeind took over and single-handedly reduced the group of favourites to only eight riders, even dropping last year’s overall winner Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio (AG Insurance-Soudal Quick Step), and eventually finishing seventh herself.
“Antonia and Ricarda did an amazing job! It’s not a surprise at all as they’re Giro and Tour stage winners. I was truly proud to see how they rode, they followed their instinct and set a pace that was killing the competition! They are young yet very talented and skilled,” she said in praise of her younger teammates who are going from strength to strength in their first year on the Women’s WorldTour.
“They move through the peloton and make decisions in hard moments that are remarkable. Seeing them riding so hard at the front allows us more experienced riders to get some extra mental rest and prepare for the final moves.”
With one stage to go, Niewiadoma is now second overall, six seconds behind Vollering. The final stage around Nyon includes four third-category climbs, and true to her attacking spirit, the 28-year-old Pole promised that she and her team would go all-out.
“The more aggressive and active the stage is, the better it is for us. We will not stay in the bunch and be happy to hold the spot in GC. We do our best to challenge and…