Neve Bradbury and Kasia Niewiadoma of Canyon SRAM took control of stage three in the Tour de Suisse Women, finishing first and second, respectively, in Champagne, Switzerland. The pair capitalised on their breakaway and pulled away on the final climb to secure Bradbury’s first professional win and boost her to second in the general classification.

Breakaway success

The stage, a 125.6km route from Vevey to Champagne, featured 2,000 metres of climbing and four significant ascents. Early on, a breakaway formed with Bradbury and Niewiadoma amongst five riders, including Amanda Spratt and Femke de Vries. The break quickly gained ground, putting pressure on the peloton and the race leader, Demi Vollering. Initially, the breakaway included Italian rider Elena Pirrone and Bradbury, who gained a half-minute advantage before being joined by Niewiadoma, Spratt, and De Vries.

Coordinated effort

In the final 20km, Canyon SRAM executed their strategy perfectly. Niewiadoma set a strong pace on the last climb, allowing Bradbury to attack. “Actually, the plan was for Kasia to do the pace at the bottom of the climb, and then for me to attack because we weren’t sure how the other riders were feeling,” Bradbury explained. “She went to the front, and soon after, it was just us two, and we were like, ‘yeah, we just go full-gas now and get as much time as we can’.”

Niewiadoma echoed this sentiment, expressing satisfaction with their teamwork: “The first two days were terrible for me, coming down from altitude and just having terrible legs. I was very upset about that, and today was just a stage to regain the pleasure of racing and having fun. We did that to perfection, so we are super happy about it.”

Pressure on SD Worx-Protime

With a strong breakaway forming, SD Worx-Protime found themselves under significant pressure. Vollering’s teammates, including Mischa Bredewold, Niamh Fisher-Black, and Femke Gerritse, worked hard to close the gap, but the breakaway riders maintained their advantage. At one point, the lead group’s gap extended beyond three minutes, causing concern for Vollering and her team. Vollering acknowledged the challenge, saying, “Yes, actually, I was a little panicked. It was a strong breakaway. We were not part of it, and that was a pity.”

Bradbury’s breakthrough

Bradbury, a 22-year-old Australian, was thrilled with the victory. “It’s wild. It’s not just a victory, but it’s a team victory. We went into the stage wanting a hard stage. We tried to make the action, and the other teams work. We did exactly that and worked well together as a team. We’re so happy with the result. To finish 1-2 on a stage like that is just wild.”

Niewiadoma, pleased to support her teammate, said, “Neve has been working for me so many times, so to say thank you in this way was a pleasure for me. In my mind, it was all about trying to make my teammate get to the top, either in GC or in the stage. It’s great for me to be able to finally give it back because it doesn’t happen that often.”

The final push

As the race approached the final climb to Vaugondry, Canyon SRAM’s tactics paid off. Niewiadoma drove the pace, shedding the other breakaway riders and leaving only her and Bradbury to contest the finish. Despite efforts from Team dsm-firmenich PostNL to support their leader Juliette Labous, who was trying to protect her fifth place in the GC, the Canyon SRAM duo increased their lead.

Bradbury and Niewiadoma crossed the finish line hand-in-hand, celebrating their successful breakaway. Meanwhile, behind them, Vollering launched a late attack to secure her yellow jersey. Despite her efforts, she couldn’t bridge the gap to the leading duo but managed to maintain her overall lead.

Kasia-Niewiadoma-2024-Tour-de-Suisse-Women-Stage-3

Reactions from the riders

Reflecting on the stage, Bradbury said, “It’s crazy. We wanted to win a stage and make the race hard. That’s exactly what we did. The plan was to let me win since it also gave us ten bonus seconds for the general classification. Kasia was incredibly strong today, but in the end, it’s about the GC, and I’m higher in the standings.”

Niewiadoma added, “The stage was aggressive from the start, with many teams, including us, looking for opportunities to turn things around. We knew that our team was stronger than the first two stages showed. We went out there to have fun and race hard. There were many attacks and attempts to create a breakaway. Neve got into an early breakaway with Pirrone. On the next climb, Lidl Trek set a hard pace, and when Spratt counterattacked, De Vries and I followed.”

Final standings

Bradbury now holds a six-second lead over Gaia Realini in the young rider classification, while Chabbey leads the mountains classification with a 12-point advantage. Canyon SRAM’s Antonia Niedermaier also moved into ninth place overall.

The final stage, a 127.5km course with two classified climbs, promises more excitement as Canyon SRAM aims to maintain their strong positions.

2024 Tour de Suisse Women Stage 3 result

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