Lotta Lepistö bounced back from a sub-par classics campaign and dominated the opening stage of the Healthy Ageing Tour on Wednesday. The Trek-Segafredo rider won the small group sprint and took the early leader's jersey in the five-day Dutch race.
"I am super happy, we just finished the hard Classics in Belgium, and I didn't have the best legs there, but now I feel my legs have returned again," Lepistö said in a team statement. "It was windy, a little bit cold, and a lot of echelons today that broke the peloton already after 50kms. I knew that Kirsten Wild [WNT-Rotor] and Jolien D'hoore [Boels Dolmans] were there, very good and fast sprinters, and we are always fighting in the finales, but I just focused on my sprint, and it went perfectly. It's a good start to the week."
Lepistö secured two stage victories at the Setmana Ciclista Valenciana earlier in the season, and hoped for stronger performances during the Classics. Trek-Segafredo won two of the Classics with Audrey Cordon-Ragot winning Drentse 8 and Ellen van Dijk winning Dwars door Vlaanderen.
At the Healthy Ageing Tour, Trek-Segafredo lined up with a strong team that included Van Dijk, Lauretta Hanson, Letizia Paternoster, Anna Plichta and Trixi Worrack.
During the opening stage, Lepistö and Van Dijk were among a small front group that made it to the finish line. Lepistö credited Van Dijk's work in helping her through the final kilometres and around a late-race crash.
"Ellen helped me in the last kilometre to stay near the front, and big thanks to her," Lepistö said. "I had to close a gap to Amy Pieters [Boels Dolmans] in the last corner, and then two riders tried to go over me and crashed, but I had a good line still so I could sprint to the finish. It was a hectic sprint even though we were only 14 riders. I am happy - It was nice to win today."
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