Lisa Klein (Canyon-SRAM Racing) rounded out the podium on Wednesday in Danilith Nokere Koerse in Belgium, finishing just a handful of seconds behind winner Amy Pieters (Team SD Works) and runner-up Grace Brown (Team BikeExchange).
The trio formed the winning break with around 50km remaining, and despite a frantic chase from the peloton and the leaders’ advantage dipping to just 12 seconds, they remained clear all the way to the line. Pieters proved the strongest on the cobbled climb to the line with Klein, 24, slightly distanced.
The result was another strong performance from the German after she finished sixth overall in the Healthy Ageing Tour earlier this month.
"The third time over the 1.6 kilometer-long cobblestone section was when the breakaway happened. The first two times on that section I was in bad position and it was only my teammates who saved me each time bringing me into better position. Alice [Barnes] was especially key when the final break happened; she made the move when the peloton split, she covered the attacks and she rode in the wind in the echelon to protect me," Klein said after the race.
According to Klein, strong teamwork from her Canyon-SRAM squad kept her in contention. Although there were no significant breaks in the first half the race positioning was always key over the cobbles and the wet conditions.
"Brown had attacked and when I saw Pieters going across on this cobblestone section I made a quick decision to go with her and not save myself for the final. Alice [Barnes] had also just come back from a small breakaway too and I knew she couldn't have gone again."
Barnes finished 18th and safely in the main field but was there to help Klein as much as possible before the break eventually went clear.
"Our team plan was to cover moves until the final small laps and then make our own move. We also focused to save Lisa to keep her fresh for the final. At the end of the last big lap, SD Worx went hard into the dragging cobblestone section. Myself and Lisa were there and made sure we were at the front of what was a small group. Brown attacked and had a small gap and then after a bit Pieters went and Lisa followed. It was on a narrow road section so the gap grew quickly,” Barnes said at the finish.
“There wasn't a consistent chase from other teams so for the rest of us we needed to stay attentive. In the final I was well positioned to also go for the bunch sprint but got squeezed into the barriers and lost all my speed with about 400 metres to go.
"Overall I was happy with how I was positioned and to be there for the decisive moment. Lisa was quick to react and we're pleased she got on the podium. She raced really strong and calm today."
Klein was happy to take her chance at leading the team but admitted that she wasn’t able to carry the workload in the break and that Brown did the lion share of the pace-setting. By the time the leaders hit the final climb to the line, Klein was running on fumes but the third place certainly sets her up for the coming cobbled races over the next few weeks.
"It was super hard in the break! I committed and I was working a lot, but I have to say that it was Brown who was doing the majority of work especially in the final lap, while Pieters was sort of playing around with a closed mouth. With each passing five kilometres I was getting more tired. I tried my best in the end but I was completely done," said Klein.
"I’m happy with my podium. In the race meeting all of my teammates believed in me to be the leader and I'm grateful for the chance."
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