Tour de Romandie: Sofia Bertizzolo catches Schrempf on the line to win stage 1

Sofia Bertizzolo (UAE Team ADQ) won stage 1 of the Tour de Romandie Féminin in a reduced peloton sprint, catching late attacker Carina Schrempf (Fenix-Deceuninck) on the finish line as the Austrian champion raised her hands in celebration, thinking she had won.

Despite a number of attacks, the race seemed set to come down to a sprint until Schrempf made her move with 2.7 km to go. She still held a sizable gap at the 200-metre mark and certain she had held off the peloton, Schrempf sat up to celebrate. However Bertizzolo squeezed past in the last metres to snatch the win. Mischa Bredewold (Team SD Worx) finished third.

“When I started my sprint, I thought I would come second because Schrempf had a big advantage, then I saw we were gaining and gaining. The team played a big part, they guided me perfectly today,” Bertizzolo said.

“It’s an emotional victory. Just yesterday I told my sport director Marcello Albasini, that my last race in Switzerland was nine years ago in Nyon when I won the European junior title, so Switzerland suits me well. I’m really happy with my first WorldTour victory, my most important victory so far.”

As the winner of the first stage of the three-day race, Bertizzolo also takes the overall lead, four seconds ahead of Schrempf.

“Tomorrow I will be riding in yellow, that means a lot to me. It’s always a special colour because it reminds you of the biggest race in the world. It’s the very first time in a leader’s jersey for me, so it’s very special,” Bertizzolo said, looking forward to her first day in a leader’s jersey.

How it unfolded

The stage started and finished in Yverdon-les-Bains and consisted of two laps of a 44-kilometre circuit, followed by a slightly longer circuit for a total of 144.1 km. Both circuits included one classified climb, Niédens on the first two laps and Arrissoules on the final lap, as well as two unclassified ascents.

The first mountain sprint was won by Loes Adegeest (FDJ-SUEZ), and Clara Honsinger (EF Education-TIBCO-SVB) then went on a solo breakaway. Adegeest also collected points on the second time up the climb to Niédens and will wear the light-blue mountain jersey on stage 2.

Honsinger’s advantage reached four minutes but the peloton increased the pace significantly on the third lap and caught her on the lower slopes of the Arrissoules climb, where Demi Vollering and Marlen Reusser (both Team SD Worx) set the pace.

Kasia Niewiadoma (Canyon-SRAM) made a move just before the top and was followed by Vollering, with the latter’s teammate Niamh Fisher-Black counterattacking and cresting the climb first, but not getting away.

Reusser and Élise Chabbey (Canyon-SRAM) attacked on the descent, with Amber Kraak (team Jumbo-Visma) bridging to them, but the three riders were quickly brought back, and the size of the group increased to over 50 riders again as riders came back from behind. 

The next move from Kraak’s teammate Eva van Agt was just as short-lived, as were attacks by Hanna Nilsson (Ceratizit-WNT), Nina Buijsman (Human Powered Health), Kraak, Floortje Mackaij (Movistar Team), Adegeest, Van Agt, Jolanda Neff (Switzerland), Niewiadoma, Esmée Peperkamp (Team DSM-Firmenich), and Lauretta Hanson (Lidl-Trek).

By now, the race was in the last kilometres, and Schrempf timed her attack well, getting a gap on the rest of the peloton through a chicane 2.7 kilometres from the finish. 

The Austrian national champion increased her lead on the streets of Yverdon, thought she had won the stage ahead of the sprinters, and sat up to celebrate. 

Unfortunately for her, Bertizzolo came past with a late surge on the very last metres, and Schrempf had to accept second place.

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Lukas Knöfler started working in cycling communications in 2013 and has seen the inside of the scene from many angles. Having worked as press officer for teams and races and written for several online and print publications, he has been Cyclingnews’ Women’s WorldTour correspondent since 2018.

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