Margot Vanpachtenbeke of VolkerWessels Women’s Pro Cycling Team clinched victory in the first stage of the 36th Lotto Thüringen Ladies Tour in Jena. Vanpachtenbeke out-sprinted Ruth Edwards after an impressive 60km breakaway to take her first pro win.

The race covered 118.5 kilometres, beginning and ending in Jena, which returned to the tour for the first time since 2011. The field faced two categorised climbs, with the decisive move coming after the ascent at Großbockedra.

The stage kicked off at 12:30 pm with 18 teams, including 10 from the Women’s World Tour. Eline Jansen claimed the first mountain points at Großbockedra. Shortly after, Vanpachtenbeke and Edwards broke away, quickly gaining a minute and extending their lead to nearly seven minutes at one point. A closed railway crossing further delayed the peloton, solidifying the breakaway’s advantage by gifting them around 3 or 4 minutes. That made it clear the lead pair were going to contest the stage. At the finish, Vanpachtenbeke ultimately outpaced Edwards in the sprint, getting ahead and never looking like getting caught. She secured the stage win and the leader’s jersey.

Vanpachtenbeke expressed her joy after the victory: “The first part of the day was very easy. The team did a great job with some attacks. After the first mountain classification, there was a moment for me to attack with Ruth. Then it was a long and hard day with a lot of headwind. But I am super happy to have won. The victory is more important to me; the overall classification doesn’t matter. But the lead is already significant; we’ll see how the next days go.”

Edwards, a former national champion, was awarded the combativity prize for her efforts. Reflecting on the race, she said, “Cycling is a brutal sport. When I came away from Europe in the spring, it didn’t end on a high so this feels special to come back and show everybody that I’m strong and I can do it.”

Edwards described her race strategy: “I put myself up there on the first QOM. ‘Get up there Winder,’ I said in my head [yes, she used her maiden name] and see how you feel. I took third over the top and strung it up and I pushed again and suddenly I was alone until Vanpachtenbeke bridged.” The duo maintained a high pace, with Edwards pulling into the final kilometre before Vanpachtenbeke launched her winning sprint.

Despite the tough stage, Edwards remains optimistic about her chances in the overall classification: “I used a lot of matches today but I’m feeling strong and fit so if I can recover well then there’s no reason not to try and set the bar pretty high and come back with the win at the end of the week.”

2024 Thüringen Ladies Tour Stage 1 result

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