It was SD Worx and Demi Vollering who took a deserved victory at Brabantse Pijl on Wednesday, the Dutchwoman soloing to victory from 10km out to grab her first win of the year.
The team wouldn't end the day empty-handed, however, as Kasia Niewiadoma proved to be the strongest of the chase group behind Vollering, dropping Marlen Reusser (SD Worx) on the final hill in Overijse before outsprinting Liane Lippert (Team DSM) on the finishing straight.
The Pole is still searching for her first win since 2019, but the podium finish – her best result of the year so far – is a welcome boost ahead of the Walloon Classics, La Flèche Wallonne and Liège-Bastogne-Liège.
"It's nice to feel that I'm there, fighting and capable of the podium. To get a podium for the team is a nice reward for everyone," she said after the arduous race, run over 23 hills through an unexpected rainstorm.
"Today has boosted my confidence for the remaining Ardennes Classics, especially after Amstel Gold Race. I feel like I regained my mental approach in the race today, attacking and being responsible for the race and showing early that I belong to be with the best in the world."
Niewiadoma, who has won Amstel and finished on the podium at both Flèche and Liège before, said that she and her teammates were committed to an attacking race from the off. Canyon-SRAM were keen to switch things up after Sunday's Amstel Gold Race, where she finished fifth in the chase group behind winner Marta Cavalli (FDJ Nouvelle-Aquitaine Futuroscope).
"Everyone from our team was committed to making the race," she said. "We learned some lessons from Amstel and wanted to race today differently, and we did that. Having Pauliena ahead meant that we could play a different game and create opportunities that would deliver a result for the team.
"Pauliena's attack was perfect," she said of the move, which came at 30km to go. "She did an amazing job in the breakaway and then also in the finish. When we caught Pauliena, the DSM riders didn't want to work so Pauliena rolled with one of them, and it set me for the finish."
Niewiadoma, who will now lead the team into next week's Ardennes Classics to round out her spring campaign, said that she raced the final on gut instinct rather than plan a specific tactic to ensure she was the best of the rest behind Vollering.
"Once we got to the final kilometre, I sort of wanted to plan it but then it was a gut instinct, and I went," she said. "I said to myself 'OK I'm doing it'. I thought Lippert might come around me but when I looked back and saw her face, I knew that I had it."
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