Stage 3 of the Simac Ladies Tour was marked by a long breakaway that was off the front of the race for almost 130 of the 149 kilometres. Anneke Dijkstra (GT Krush RebelLease), Scarlett Souren (Parkhotel Valkenburg), and Julie Sap (Lotto dstny Ladies) were up to eight minutes ahead of the peloton at some stages, enough to put Dijkstra in the virtual race lead.
“It didn’t really change anything because I still expected them to close the gap, but we worked well together,” said Dijkstra, who didn’t give much thought to being in the virtual yellow jersey.
The red jersey awarded for the combativity prize, but not worn in the race, was more of a focus among the three riders who got away in the breakaway initiated by Dijkstra early in the race.
“I didn’t expect that we would get so much space from the bunch, but I knew the gap could be closed quickly,” said Souren. “We continued to work well together in the breakaway, but the tactics did not change. During the race I was focused on the red jersey.”
As the escapees expected, the sprinters’ teams did reduce the gap rapidly once they started to chase in earnest, and only just over two minutes remained when Souren attacked her companions. Dijkstra immediately lost contact and eventually dropped back to the bunch.
“At that point, my energy was low, and the gap was closing really fast. They were attacking for the combativity prize,” she said.
Souren indeed went for the red jersey and rode Sap off her wheel twice more, though the Lotto Dstny Ladies rider made her way back each time. Souren and Sap were caught by the peloton with ten kilometres to go, with Charlotte Kool (dsm-firmenich) taking victory in the sprint.
“I knew we would be taken back, that’s why I started attacking. Going into the Simac Ladies Tour, I wanted to win the combativity jersey one day, so this was the perfect moment. I’m happy I got to wear the red jersey on the podium,” Souren said.