Stage 3 of the Tour of Chongming Island saw another sprint victory by Lorena Wiebes (Parkhotel Valkenburg), completing a clean sweep of wins in China. The young Dutch rider has dominated the race from start to finish in what has been a breakthrough season for her. The 20-year-old has quickly become a hot favourite in the sprints, where her team manager says that she races on pure instinct.
In all three sprints, Wiebes had no teammates left on the finishing straight that could lead her out. The young Dutchwoman showed her talent in utilising other teams’ sprint trains, jumping from wheel to wheel and launching three stage-winning sprints. Wiebes had already shown this skill earlier in the season at Brugge-De Panne and Gent-Wevelgem where she finished second, and her team manager confirmed that this is by design.
“Lorena is a rider who needs to go her own way in the final. The team is very important before, bringing her to maybe 500 metres before the finish and putting her in a good position, but then she goes her own way. It is her instinct," Parkhotel Valkenburg team manager Esra Tromp told Cyclingnews. "She really has that instinct for cycling, to be in the right place at the right time. For example, when there is a climb coming up, she is at the front when she needs to be."
After winning the opening stage of the Tour of Chongming Island, Wiebes started the next day in the yellow jersey, and her team had the burden of defending the overall lead. Wiebes’ teammates rose to the challenge, delivering their sprinter to a second victory and further increasing expectations ahead of the final stage. Stage 3 finished with six laps of a 11.5-kilometre circuit. The team covered dangerous attacks and reeled in the last breakaway on the final lap before Wiebes finished it off by winning the final sprint and, logically, the overall classification. Wiebes may have gone it alone in the final metres, but it was a team effort to deliver her to the finale.
"Building our team for 2019, it was really important for us that all our girls have the same vision and the same team spirit," Tromp explained. "All our riders are there for one goal, to win stages and the general classification. If you have one goal and everybody commits to it, it is easy to make a plan. But you still have to carry it out. The girls worked really hard, and they did a very good job controlling the race. The first stage win added extra motivation, that is what we travelled to China for. When you have a rider who can win the race, everybody pushes their limits even more, so these victories are victories for the whole team. Everybody looked to our team to control the race, and there is always the chance of something happening."
Wiebes will now take a short break from racing after a very successful spring campaign with seven UCI victories. Her next race is the OVO Women’s Tour in June followed by the European Games and the Dutch national championships. "That is her biggest goal for the season," finished Tromp. "The circuit includes a small hill, but there is a big chance it will be a race for Lorena with a sprint at the end."