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Lukas Knöfler

Tour de Suisse Women: Demi Vollering wins mountainous opening stage

Demi Vollering (SD Worx-Protime) won stage 1 of the Tour de Suisse Women (Image credit: Getty Images)
Elisa Longo Borghini and Gaia Realini in the peloton (Image credit: Getty Images)
The peloton climbing during stage 1 (Image credit: Getty Images)
Demi Vollering leads the peloton (Image credit: Getty Images)
Realini and Vollering on the move (Image credit: Getty Images)
Vollering drops Realini on the way to the line (Image credit: Getty Images)
Vollering celebrates the win (Image credit: Getty Images)
Elise Chabbey came home for third (Image credit: Getty Images)
Vollering in the first leader's jersey of the race (Image credit: Getty Images)

Demi Vollering (SD Worx-Protime) won stage 1 of the Tour de Suisse Women, a short but challenging 58.6km stage starting and finishing in Villars-sur-Ollon.

The Dutch champion dropped her last companion Gaia Realini (Lidl-Trek) just before the flamme rouge and took 23 seconds on the Italian at the finish. Élise Chabbey (Canyon-SRAM) finished third at 45 seconds.

Chabbey had attacked just before the top of the first climb of the day, the second-category Col de la Croix, and increased her advantage to almost three minutes.

On the finishing climb, Vollering and Realini went on the pursuit and came up to Chabbey just before the QOM with 1.3km to go. After dropping Chabbey, Vollering put in another acceleration to rid herself of Realini and solo to victory and the first leader's jersey.

"It's never easy. But that's the trick, to make it look easy, then you're doing a good job. It was a strange race because it was so short with a lot of climbing, so you felt a little bit confusion in the bunch, like, how do we do this. In the end it was a really nice race, and although it was short, it was really hard," said Vollering.

Her teammate and last year's winner Marlen Reusser had to miss her home race due to illness, and Vollering hopes to win the Tour de Suisse Women in her stead.

"It's really sad that we don't have Marlen here. She's sick, I hope she gets well soon, and I really hope we can have another win here with the team. That would be great, for sure," Vollering paid compliments to her teammate.

How it unfolded

Held under rain clouds, the race started with a false flat before the ascent to the Col de la Croix started, climbing 3.8km at an average of 8.9%. There were no attacks for most of this vicious climb, but the steep gradients saw riders like Jolanda Neff (Switzerland) or Olga Zabelinskaya (Tashkent City Women) dropped.

Just before the top, Chabbey made her move, ostensibly in a bid for the QOM points, and nobody followed her. But the 31-year-old continued on the descent to Les Diablerets and further into the Rhône valley. When she reached Aigle, Chabbey was over 1:30 minutes ahead as only SD Worx-Protime were doing any chase work.

The Dutch team sent Marie Schreiber on a solo pursuit in an attempt to make other teams take over the work, but this did not work well: While Schreiber got a bit closer to Chabbey and was 1:15 minutes behind with 15km to go, the peloton’s deficit had grown to 2:52 minutes.

Therefore, first Femke Gerritse and then Mischa Bredewold took charge of the chase again, setting a hard pace on the lower slopes of the finishing climb to Villars-sur-Ollon and reeling in Schreiber again. Six kilometres from the finish line, Bredewold swung off, having reduced the gap to 1:40 minutes.

Vollering set the pace herself now, further reducing the gap, and when Realini joined in, the two riders pulled away from the rest of the group who could no longer follow their pace. Together, Realini and Vollering got closer and closer to Chabbey who was now struggling on the steep slopes, and they closed the gap just before the QOM point.

Chabbey made one last effort to take the maximum points and secure the red QOM jersey, but after that, the Swiss climber immediately lost contact with the other two. After a short pause, Vollering made another acceleration just before the flamme rouge to drop Realini and solo to stage victory ahead of the Italian climber and Chabbey, the rest of the peloton finishing in dribs and drabs.

Going into the stage 2 time trial from Aigle to Villars-sur-Ollon, Vollering leads the GC by 26 seconds on Realini and 49 seconds on Chabbey, with Elisa Longo Borghini (Lidl-Trek) in fourth place at 1:08 minutes.


Results powered by FirstCycling

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