Amy Pieters (Boels Dolmans) was all smiles on the GP de Plouay podium Saturday afternoon after sprinting to victory against Marianne Vos (WaowDeals) and Coryn Rivera (Team Sunweb). Normally one of the strongest teams in a race, the Boels Dolmans squad was short-handed from the get-go in Plouay.
Due to illness, world champion Chantal Blaak and Anna Plichta could not take the start, leaving the orange-clad team with only four riders.Things seemed to go from bad to worse when Karol-Ann Canuel, one of the team's designated leaders, had to abandon on the first of five laps. But the remaining three riders were strong enough to still leave their mark on the race and eventually take the victory.
"We had a small team, but we said to each other 'we have to win today'," Pieters said after the finish. "Skylar [Schneider], Megan [Guarnier] and I raced really well together. We made it a hard race, and in the final it was down to Megan and me. Megan was really strong, she attacked several times in the final. I did not have to do anything, that was perfect for me. I could try to recover, was able to hang on and eventually won the sprint."
On the finishing straight, Rivera was not quite sure which wheel to follow when Pieters launched her sprint. The US champion decided to stay in the slipstream of Vos and Elena Cecchini (Canyon-SRAM) and ended up close to the barriers. Although she was not entirely boxed in and still almost beat Vos for second place, Rivera admitted that a different decision in that split-second might have given her the victory.
"In the sprint, I hesitated just a bit to change sides, and I think that cost me the win. But I am super proud of the girls for the effort we put into the race. When the race opened up in the last couple of laps, we were always in a position where we could win. Liane [Lippert] followed a huge attack the last time up the climb, and we both ended up in the front group. We will be back next year to move up to that top step."
Cervélo-Bigla were probably the most active team of the day. Several times, Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio and her young understudy Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig went off the front of the peloton, trying to initiate a breakaway from 20 kilometres out. In the end, Moolman-Pasio finished eighth from the 15-rider front group.
"We tried to animate the race; Cille, Sophie [Wright], Clara [Koppenburg] and I put on a good effort on the penultimate lap. It was disappointing not to able to reward this with a podium, but it was a good team performance, especially from Sophie in her first race with the team."
The UCI Women's WorldTour continues on Tuesday, 28 August, with stage 1 of the six-day Boels Ladies Tour.