Kool powers through in London to win the Ford RideLondon Classique
Despite injuries sustained in a penultimate stage crash, Dutch sprinter Charlotte Kool won a bunch sprint to take the final stage victory at the Ford RideLondon Classique on The Mall on Sunday.
The success built on a strong Team DSM performance was enough to give the 24 year-old the overall victory at the end of the three-day race.
The final sprint was a hectic affair, UAE Team ADQ leading onto the final straight with Team DSM on their wheel. However, Canyon//SRAM Racing went long, Chloé Dygert with more than 100m remaining, but Kool was too strong coming to the front at the last minute to take the victory.
The victory is her sixth race win of the season but is the first WorldTour stage race general classification success of her career.
“I was in a lot of pain this morning but I think in the race I switched it off and then the team delivered me perfectly, this is really a team win,” she explained, wearing her race winner’s jersey after the podium ceremony.
The race was not straightforward though, one of the breakaway riders so far clear of the peloton she was the virtual race leader for some of the stage, but that didn’t seem to bother Kool.
“I was quite confident because it was not on us because Canyon needed the seconds to move up in GC. For us it was actually the perfect situation, the bonus seconds were gone, so actually we stayed really calm and they made the chase. Even Trek helped so that was fine for us in the end.” And despite Canyon//SRAM Racing taking the sprint on early on The Mall she remained in control.
“I think I could expect that because she did it before and I just tried to wait as long as possible then I knew I had to go. It was a hard one but I am really happy that I could win the stage also.”
Lizzie Deignan was the top placed British rider and thanked her Trek-Segafredo team for guiding her to third-place overall in a race which did not suit her strengths. “As expected it was very hectic, very fast, a little bit scary but we did what we could and luckily the results in the final played in our favour and I still held onto to my third place,” the 2015 world champion explained.
“The tactic was to try and do something after the second sprint but the course was just not quite dynamic enough, there were a lot of corners and it was hard, but it was still not quite a criterium so it was difficult to distance people. We tried, gave it a go, it didn’t work so it was just about trying to set me up as best we could for the sprint.”
The 91.2km race, starting and finishing on The Mall in one of London’s most iconic sights over eight laps of a 11.km circuit and was busy from the start.
As soon as the race began a number of attacks went up the road. However, whenever a lone leader was joined by another rider the peloton would close it down, the bonus seconds at the intermediate sprints too important. It was Canyon//SRAM Racing, whose rider Dygert was in third place overall at the start of the day, who took responsibility, winning the first intermediate sprint to reduce her deficit to Kool to just seven seconds.
On the fifth lap Sofie van Rooijen (Parkhotel Valkenburg), Victoire Berteau (Cofidis Women Team) and Grace Lister (DAS-Handsling Bikes) got away and by the time they crossed the line with 34.5km to go they had built a lead of more than one minute making Berteau the virtual overall race leader.
However, on the penultimate lap Trek-Segafredo put their plan into action, lifting the pace to an almost unbearable level, closing the gap and even splitting the bunch behind them. This, though, was not quite enough to drop their rivals, and eventually they ran out of gas, the bunch reforming.
The leaders remained off the front until the final lap, when the massed ranks of sprinters teams wore them down and brought them to heel. That closing circuit saw a fight for position, teams jostling for each other’s piece of tarmac until the peloton turned onto The Mall for the final sprint, leaving Kool to close out a fine three days racing.
For full quotes and Stage Three reaction, click here.