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Uneken secures 'unexpected' solo victory in Healthy Ageing Tour

Lonneke Uneken (SD Worx)
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Lonneke Uneken (SD Worx) has continued her team's dominance during the early-season calendar with a stage 3 victory to close out the Healthy Ageing Tour on Friday. The 21-year-old was part of two of the day's decisive breakaways during the 115km race but attacked in final 20km and won by over a minute ahead of her rivals in Wijster.

"I didn’t expect this, this morning," said Uneken, whose powerful performance shows that she is one of the future stars of SD Worx. 

“It was really hard, and I attacked really soon. At a moment some teammates came back to my group. I attacked again, was gone and teammates blocked my move. I only had to keep riding. The victory kept me motivated." 

Uneken spent more than 70km off the front during the final stage, part of that was with an early move that included Jolien D'hoore (SD Worx), Anna Hendersen (Jumbo-Visma), Lauretta Hanson (Trek-Segafredo). She was again, part of the next breakaway when the lead group reshuffled to include her teammate Karol Ann Canuel.

Uneken made her winning solo move, out of the breakaway, and with 18km to go, she held over a minute gap (maximum 2:45) on a group of chasers, and then she went on to take the stage win.

It was a solid performance from one of the youngest riders on the SD Worx team that have dominated the opening-season. Although Trek-Segafredo's Ellen van Dijk took the overall title at Healthy Ageing Tour, SD Worx have won Omloop Het Nieuwsblad and Strade Bianche with Anna van der Breggen, and two stages at the Healthy Ageing Tour: stage 1 with Jolien D'hoore, and stage 3 with Uneken.

SD Worx have a new sponsor this year with a relatively new team. The roster includes returning riders Van der Breggen, D'hoore and Uneken, along with Amy Pieters, Chantal van den Broek-Blaak, Christine Majerus, and Karol-Ann Canuel. New signings include Demi Vollering, Ashleigh Moolman Pasio, Elena Cecchini, Roxane Fournier, Nikola Noskova, Anna Shackley, and Niamh Fisher-Black.

They have dominated with team tactics and their success, so far, has shown they are back to being the best team in the world, a title they held under the Boels-Dolmans banner for five consecutive years. At Strade Bianche the team finished with four riders in the top eleven. At the Healthy Ageing Tour they won two stages, finished with two riders in the top five, and Amy Pieters won the points classification, Uneken won the mountain classification, and they won the overall best team classification.

In an interview with Cyclingnews, Van der Breggen said that it was important for the team to develop the younger riders, like Uneken, to prepare them to take her place when she retires at the end of 2021

"We have a new team that I am excited about," Van der Breggen said. "We have some young talent and our team took them in for multiple years to develop them into being good riders. Every team is searching for young talent to make them better and to allow them to learn from experienced riders, and from within the organisation, to be a better cyclist in the future."

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Kirsten Frattini is an honours graduate of Kinesiology and Health Science from York University in Toronto, Canada. She has been involved in bike racing from the grassroots level to professional cycling's WorldTour. She has worked in both print and digital publishing, and started with Cyclingnews as a North American Correspondent in 2006. Moving into a Production Editor's role in 2014, she produces and publishes international race coverage for all cycling disciplines, edits news and writes features. Currently the Women's Editor at Cyclingnews, Kirsten coordinates global coverage of races, news, features and podcasts about women's professional cycling.