In an exhilarating display of speed and skill, 19-year-old Mirre Knaven of AG Insurance-Soudal claimed victory in the second stage of the Gracia Orlova, a UCI 2.2 race in the Czech Republic. The young Dutch rider, also a cyclocross competitor, sprinted to victory from a select group of thirteen riders after a gruelling mountain stage.

The 101-kilometre stage, which started and finished in Lichnov, was punctuated by three first-category climbs and one second-category climb, testing the peloton’s climbing legs. Despite the challenges, it was Knaven who emerged victorious, crossing the line several bike lengths ahead of her nearest competitors, Xaydee Van Sinaey and yesterday’s winner Corinna Lechner, who finished second and third respectively.

Mirre Knaven expressed her elation post-race, “Today was nervy at the start; I wasn’t sure of my form on the longer climbs. But as the race progressed, I felt surprisingly strong and was confident heading into the sprint. This is my first significant road win, and it’s incredibly special to achieve it here.” Her victory marks a notable success early in the season and underlines her potential on the road as well as in cyclocross.

Corinna Lechner’s consistent performance ensured she retained the overall leader’s jersey, now thirteen seconds ahead of Lore De Schepper, who sits in second place. Knaven herself is not far behind, positioned fourth overall, just fifteen seconds from the lead.

Mirre Knaven on the podium with Xaydee Van Sinaey & Corinna Lechner

Looking ahead, the Gracia Orlova continues with three more stages, including a pivotal 13.5-kilometre time trial, expected to shake up the general classification before concluding with two stages likely favouring the sprinters.

This result not only highlights Knaven’s burgeoning talent but also solidifies AG Insurance-Soudal’s prominence in this year’s race, following a strong second-place finish by teammate Lore De Schepper on the opening day.

2024 Gracia Orlova Stage 2 result

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Main photo credit: Josef Vaishar