Alex Manly (BikeExchange-Jayco) finally broke Marianne Vos' winning streak, taking out the sprint from a late breakaway just as the peloton started to catch them.
Chloe Hosking (Trek-Segafredo) and Laura Tomasi (UAE Team ADQ) rounded out the stage podium.
Manly went after Alice Barnes (Canyon-SRAM) when the latter attacked 11 km from the line, and they were joined by Anouska Koster (Team Jumbo-Visma), Hosking, Tomasi and Barnes' teammate Neve Bradbury with 3.5 km to go.
This group made it to the finishing straight where Bradbury led out Barnes, but Hosking and Manly came past on the uphill last 150 metres, and Manly was half a wheel ahead on the line. Tomasi also squeezed past Barnes to take third place while Koster finished just ahead of Vos who led home the peloton in the same time as the winner and continues to lead the race overall.
“It’s a bit surreal, to be honest. I’ve been trying to do this all year but kept making mistakes. It wasn’t the plan to do what I did, but the moment was just there, and I couldn’t not take it. It was all on instinct," said Manly of her first Women’s WorldTour victory.
"I just felt good and took a lesson from Luke Plapp, ‘when you feel good, you go’. Thanks to these girls, everybody worked so hard today, we really wanted to make it an aggressive race, and at the end I’m really glad to pull it off.”
The four riders bridging to the front duo were what saved the day for Manly.
“When it was just the two of us, I thought were going to be dangling until the last kilometre. It was really lucky that the peloton split through the roundabout so we had four girls come across to us, it was just the perfect set-up for the sprint.”
How it unfolded
There were attacks from the start, making for a hard 119 kilometres from Askim to Mysen, but for a long time, nobody could really get away. Amber Kraak (Team Jumbo-Visma) won the first mountain sprint to extend her lead in the QOM classification while green jersey Alison Jackson (Liv Racing Xstra) won the first intermediate sprint.
At 57km from the finish, Femke Markus (Parkhotel Valkenburg) went solo and held a gap of up to 35 seconds before being caught again 10 kilometres later. This prompted a counterattack from her teammate Mischa Bredewold as well as Movistar Team’s Lourdes Oyarbide, who quickly built an advantage of 49 seconds. Eluned King (Le Col-Wahoo) tried to bridge to them but was reeled in by the peloton.
Oyarbide and Bredewold were 30 seconds ahead atop the second classified climb with 38.9 km to go but were caught a few minutes later, opening for new attacks. Valerie Demey (Liv Racing Xstra) and Nicole Steigenga (Team Coop-Hitec Products) got away and held a 49-second advantage but were caught when Liane Lippert (Team DSM) and Vos closed the gap.
Jackson was beaten by Tamara Dronova (Roland Cogeas Edelweiss Squad) in the second intermediate sprint 18.2km from the line, but the second place was enough to secure the green points jersey for another day.
After several ill-fated attacks, Barnes went on the move with 11km left, soon followed by Manly, and the peloton let them go. A crash brought down six riders and also held up Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig (FDJ-SUEZ-Futuroscope), who just managed to stop in time but had to chase hard to get back to the peloton again.
Demi Vollering (Team SD Worx) was not so lucky, going down in a crash with her teammates Niamh Fisher-Black and Anna Shackley as well as Arianna Fidanza (Team BikeExchange-Jayco) and Justine Ghekiere (Plantur-Pura) just outside the 3km mark. Vollering and Fisher-Black finished five minutes down and were examined by the race medical staff at the finish.
At the front of the race, Koster, Hosking, Tomasi, and Bradbury made it across to Manly and Barnes, and this gave the break the strength needed to hold off the peloton.
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