Elise Uijen‘s win on stage 4 of Setmana Ciclista Valenciana marked a breakthrough win for the 19-year-old, as well as a sign of things to come for Team DSM as they look for victories without their former headline riders.
After being in the breakaway for all of stage 3, working right until the end with a series of last-ditch attacks, Uijen again found herself in the decisive move that went in the middle of stage 4.
Clearly one of the strongest climbers in the 16-woman breakaway, the young Dutch rider led the efforts over the final climb, eventually going clear with Justine Ghekiere (AG Insurance-Soudal-QuickStep), who she beat in the final sprint in Gandia.
“Today we were really looking to make the race as a team; attacking and going for the stage win,” Uijen said at the finish.
“In the end, after a lot of attacks, I made it into a group. We knew it could go all the way for the stage win so I tried to do my best as possible. In the end, it came down to a sprint with another rider and I could finish it off.”
In only her second year as a professional, having joined Team DSM straight from the elite ranks, this is Uijen’s biggest result of her nascent career.
“I’m really happy to take my first pro win and for the team too,” she said.
As well as a big win for Uijen, the win marks DSM’s first non-bunch sprint victory of 2023, a year which will see them rely on a much younger and less experienced team than previous seasons.
Charlotte Kool‘s pair of wins at the UAE Tour proved they have filled the Lorena Wiebes-shaped hole in their sprint team, but their stage race squad was yet to be tested in the absence of Floortje Mackaij and Liane Lippert (both now at Movistar).
Besides Juliette Labous, Team DSM’s climbing and GC hopes are pinned on a group of very young riders. At Valenciana, half the team were under 20, with Uijen not even the youngest in the squad.
The team came close to a big result on stage 2 when Megan Jastrab sprinted to third behind winner Elisa Balsamo (Trek-Segafredo) but it was Uijen’s performances on the two harder stages of the weekend that really elevated the team’s time in Valencia.
“We were able to put the cherry on the cake here,” Uijen said. “Because this week we have really built on something, and it’s a blast to end it this way.”
DSM director Kelvin Dekker was equally delighted at the result, hinting at the work the team have been doing to rebuild their squad ahead of the coming season.
“It’s amazing to end this week with a big win,” he said. “It’s…
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