The first provisional start lists published for the Tour of Norway did not include any British riders; however, the final start list, published shortly before the race got underway with a tricky prologue time trial on the 15th of August, showed that Servetto-Footon had formed a mixed team that would include Alice Cobb (Squadra Donne) and Lucy Coldwell (Velosport-Pasta Montegrappa).
The race consisted of a prologue and two stages – Alice had written one of her typically superb blogposts, in which she explained that she’s been suffering from a chest infection and complained that as a domestic rider used to British races she’s not used to racing over the distances she faced (Stage 1 is 117km; Stage 2 129km), but that she viewed the Tour as a valuable opportunity to learn.
“The line up includes just a couple of names you might have heard of; Vos, Johansson. Elvin, Hoskins, Worrack, Blaak, Cromwell. Did I mention Vos?” she writes. “So with that provisional start list combined with my lack of form it’s fair to say the targets have shifted somewhat. I think I’ll simply be happy to get round in one piece!”
Marianne Vos (Rabo-Liv) says she’ll never be very good at time trials, but being Marianne Vos she doesn’t let that prevent her winning one from time to time – and the tight, technical turns of the 3km Prologue put her on an even footing with the outright TT specialists, her bike-handling skills being easily a match for their sustained power.
“The prologue fitted me well – it was technical and spectacular with all the wet corners,” Vos explained after the race. “I’m happy with my win. It’s not decided that the team will ride solely for me in the general classification. We take it day by day and I want a Rabo-Liv winner to win Ladies Tour of Norway,”
Lisa Brennauer of Specialized-Lululemon was third at +3″; Vos’ team mate Annemiek van Vleuten was third at +4″. Thalita De Jong, also with Vos’ Rabo-Liv team, was the top-placed rider in the Youth category in sixth place at +12″.
Alice and Lucy finished in 82nd and 87th place respectively; Alice with a time of 4’17”, 38″ behind Vos, while Lucyl was 2″ slower.
Rabo-Liv’s Anna van der Breggen proved she’s still capable of winning races for herself as well as acting as Marianne Vos’ lieutenant with a fine solo performance that moved her into the top position overall and also netted her stage victory in the Points and Mountains classifications.
“It was a really nice and very hard race, with some attacks – in the end it went perfectly. The win for me is great, and I’m enjoying riding here in Norway,” van der Breggen said after attacking a five-strong group that formed on the final climb and riding away to a solo win 29″ ahead of Estado de Mexico-Faren’s Rossella Ratto and her Rabo team mate Katarzyna Nieuwiadoma.
Lucy finished in 37th place at +47″”; she is 46th overall at +1’30”. Showing up on the official results as having failed to make the time limit and initially reported by us as such, Alice spoke to Neutral Service shortly after the stage and explained that she had in fact had a problem with her bike.
“My bike was unrideable so I had to pull out – DNF,” she told us. “It was all going so well until the cable snapped. Was loving the racing and sitting in the top 20 until ping! Not sure why the results were wrong. It was brilliant until the mechanical and the realisation it was all over as I didn’t have a spare bike.”
With several climbs along a circuit that would be lapped three times, Stage 2 was clearly the day to try to form a breakaway – which is precisely what most of the teams tried to do during the first 70km, but none of them lasted for long with Rabo-Liv and others making sure each one was nipped in the bud well before blossoming.
Finally, a break strong enough to stick formed, and this time Rabo were in complete control of it with Katarzyna Nieuwiadoma, Roxane Knetemann and, crucially, General Classification contenders Anna van der Breggen and Marianne Vos all making it in. With them were Rossella Ratto (Estado de Mexico-Faren), Tiffany Cromwell (Specialized-Lululemon) and the Orica-AIS duo of Valentina Scandolara and Emma Johansson – an interesting situation as Scandolara is known for her ability to attack time and time again wearing down her team leader’s rivals, whereas Johansson is one of only a tiny handful of riders able to present a serious challenge to Vos on any parcours.
Scandolara did what she does best, but the Rabo quartet had the advantage of being able to share their burden. Nevertheless, Johansson wasn’t going to let them get away without a fight and attacked, but to no avail – Rabo wouldn’t let her get away, and to make sure she didn’t try again Knetemann launched an attack of her own, briefly creating a small gap before dropping back and leaving the seven remaining leaders to contest a bunch sprint. The tactic worked to perfection; having been forced to give more than she’d planned, Johansson was in no fit state to rival Vos and was the fourth rider in. Van der Breggen was second, recording an equal time to Vos and as such retaining the General Classification lead she took yesterday; Cromwell was third. Van der Breggen also won the overall Points competition while Nieuwiadoma won the Queen of the Mountains and the Young Riders category – an excellent Tour for the mighty Rabo-Liv team, which took six places in the General Classification including the top three, and won the Team classification.
Lucy finished the stage in a very respectable 21st place at 1’44” – safely ahead of some highly respected riders including Karol-Ann Canuel, Amanda Spratt, Evie Stevens and Vera Koedooder. She was 29th overall, finishing with a total time 3’22” greater than the winner.
We’ll have a guest blog report written by Lucy Coldwell here on Neutral Service very soon!
Tour of Norway Overall General Classification Top Ten
1 Anna van der Breggen (Rabo-Liv) 5h38’11”
2 Marianne Vos (Rabo-Liv) +38″
3 Katarzyna Nieuwiadoma (Rabo-Liv) +45″
4 Rossella Ratto (Estado de Mexico-Faren) +54″
5 Tiffany Cromwell (Specialized-Lululemon) +1’02”
6 Emma Johansson (Orica-AIS) ST
7 Valentina Scandolara (Orica-AIS) _1’13”
8 Roxane Knetemann (Rabo-Liv) +1’15”
9 Annemiek van Vleuten (Rabo-Liv) +1’34”
10 Thalita de Jong (Rabo-Liv) +2’38”
The photos below have been made available for free use by the race organisers. See more here.