Lucinda Brand emerged victorious in stage 4 of the Lotto Thüringen Ladies Tour, winning from a reduced group sprint in Mühlhausen. The Dutch rider crossed the line ahead of Karlijn Swinkels and Mischa Bredewold.

Ruth Edwards ascended to the yellow jersey after gaining nine seconds on the previous leader, Margot Vanpachtenbeke, during the final push to the line. Edwards now leads Vanpachtenbeke by five seconds in the overall standings ahead of Saturday’s 31km time trial.

The stage was characterised by a bold solo attack from Kasia Niewiadoma, who broke away at the foot of the penultimate climb with 29km to go. Niewiadoma extended her lead to 40 seconds as she crested the top of the final classified ascent with 18km remaining.

By this point, a reduced group of 15 riders was in pursuit, with Brand’s teammate Brodie Chapman crucial in maintaining the chase’s momentum. Despite her efforts, Niewiadoma was caught in the closing kilometres, primarily due to the crosswinds in the final 10km.

As Niewiadoma was reeled in, Sarah Gigante launched an attack, initiating a frantic run-in. The front group splintered and reformed multiple times, with Swinkels making the first move on the gently rising finish. However, Brand, well-positioned by teammates Chapman and Shirin van Anrooij, overtook Swinkels in the final 50m to secure the stage win.

“In the first lap, I didn’t feel the best and there was a chance the break would stay away, but it started all over again when they were brought back and then Kasia went away,” Brand remarked. “When she was brought back, we knew it would be a sprint and the plan was to go 100% for me.”

Reflecting on her previous success in the race, Brand remained realistic about her chances in the overall classification. “It was really nice to win the GC a couple of years ago and coming here it was one of the goals, but now we have two leaders with more than two minutes,” she said. “It’s a very long time trial tomorrow so it’s very optimistic to think we can close the gap.”

The fourth stage, which began and ended in Mühlhausen, saw riders tackling numerous hills over the course of 111km. The opening phase was relatively calm, but the race exploded into life when Mirre Knaven made the first move, quickly followed by a group of eleven riders including Bredewold, Christine Majerus, van Anrooij, Swinkels, Niewiadoma, and Amber Kraak.

This elite group soon gained a substantial lead, causing concern for Vanpachtenbeke, who initially struggled to bridge the gap. However, with the support of her teammates, she managed to rejoin the main peloton. Niewiadoma then launched her solo attack, holding her lead until the final kilometres when the chasers, led by Lidl-Trek, finally brought her back.

Swinkels started the sprint, but Brand’s timing was impeccable as she powered past in the final metres to take the victory. Vanpachtenbeke finished 14th, maintaining her lead in the general classification.

2024 Thüringen Ladies Tour Stage 4 result

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All photo credits: Arne Mill / T.RF Sportmarketing GmbH