Another victory for Lepistö, in Elsy Jacobs
Lotta Lepistö claimed her second victory of the season after she out-sprinted the field during stage 1 of Festival Elsy Jacobs. A ten second bonus for the win and one second gap on the line ensured she took over the race lead after completing the prologue 10 seconds behind the prologue winner the previous day.
The victory was set up by a fine team performance after Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio claimed the first mountains points of the day. Soon after Carmen Small went on the attack to make up the day's main breakaway with Giorgia Bronzini (Wiggle High 5). Small won the remaining mountains points which earned her the jersey at the end of the stage. After the two were caught in the final moments of the race, Moolman-Pasio put in an attack to put the onus on other teams to chase, taking the pressure off Lepistö.
"The attack from Carmen was really strong and I thought they would stay away," Lepistö said. "After they were caught we had to shift and prepare ourselves for a sprint. The pace was really fast in the sprint. It was really technical in the last kilometre. It was very slippery because of the rain. I chose the wheel of Amy Pieters and with 500m to go she was still pulling in the front and I tried to stay calm. I came off her wheel with 200m to go. The legs were stiff and my hands were cold from the rain so I din't have much feeling but I gave it my all and kept going."
"I have the jersey now so I am happy I got the gap on the line. We are going to come up with a plan to protect the jersey tomorrow. The team performance is just amazing, Ashleigh attacked in the last climb and put the pressure on," a jubilant Lepistö said.
A consistent performance over the past two days also puts the team second in the team classification. One day remains in the three-day race. Racing is bound to be a close affair as Lepistö leads the overall classification by one second.