It seems that whenever Marianne Vos puts a race number on these days, she triumphs. Stage 2 of the Ladies Tour of Norway was her third consecutive win in a mass-start race after stage 1 and the PostNord Vårgårda WestSweden Road Race.
Vos looked exhausted after a difficult uphill sprint in the rain where she had to close a gap to Katarzyna Niewiadoma (Canyon-SRAM). And before that, Vos had to be attentive for four laps of the finishing circuit in Sarpsborg as Team Sunweb tried to break race apart.
"The finishing laps were pretty hard with all the action. A lot of attacks, up and down. You had to be careful because of the rain, but you also had to sprint out of every corner. Sunweb did a really good job. They were strong yesterday already, and again today, so it was not easy to stay in control."
Contrary to her wins on stage 1 and in Vårgårda where she opened up very early, Vos waited for a long time before she started her sprint today. This was a wise decision on the uphill finish. "Already at the bonus sprint, I noticed that if you go early, it is a long way up. So I knew I had to wait a little longer. Kasia Niewiadoma went quite early, I tried to get her wheel again and wait as long as possible. Then it was still 150 metres to go, but I could hold it to the line."
For the second day in a row, it was Emilia Fahlin (Wiggle High5) who finished as runner-up to Vos. The Swedish champion admitted that she was not feeling great in the final, but a strong pull by her teammate Kirsten Wild put her in a position to contest the sprint.
"I was hanging on for dear life on the circuit. Elisa Longo Borghini covered the groups that went, then Kirsten Wild brought me to the front for the sprint. In the rain, it was hard to see everything, and you did not want to be in the wind too early. I saw Marianne jumping to the wheel of Niewiadoma. They had a bit of a gap, and Kasia ended up giving Marianne a nice lead-out. I tried to close it, but it was not possible."
After two second places, Fahlin must be itching to get on that top step - but she is also second overall now and may put priority on the overall podium on the final stage. "It will be fun to go for that, and I am enjoying it as well as being nervous. We are going to put it all out there tomorrow. It is the last stage, so we have nothing to lose, really."
The team that tried the hardest to make a break stick on the finishing circuit in Sarpsborg was Team Sunweb. Time and again, the riders in white and black went off the front, and every time they were chased down. In the end, Coryn Rivera was the team's best finisher in seventh place after a solo attack by Lucinda Brand had been brought back within the last three kilometres.
"We took control of the race on the technical finishing circuit, pacing it hard and sending off attacks," Rivera said. "Lucinda and I were in a good break at one point, but Boels Dolmans had missed the move and brought the group back. I can honestly say that the girls and I gave everything we had today to put pressure on the overall leader. I am proud of the effort the girls put in today, we went all in."
Sunweb sports director Hans Timmermans agreed, calling it one of the best races of the season from the team and promising more fireworks on the final stage: "They gave everything they had and worked perfectly together. It is not over until it is over, we have different cards to play on another hard stage tomorrow, so we will definitely go for it again."
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