Vollering Triumphs in Tour de Suisse Women’s Stage 1

Demi Vollering claimed victory in the opening stage of the Tour de Suisse Women, a short but demanding 58.6km route starting and finishing in Villars-sur-Ollon. The Dutch champion managed to drop her final challenger, Gaia Realini, just before the flamme rouge and secured a 23-second lead over the Italian. Élise Chabbey finished in third, trailing by 45 seconds.

The stage began under rain clouds, with the peloton facing a false flat before tackling the ascent to the Col de la Croix, a climb of 3.8km at an average gradient of 8.9%. Despite the vicious gradients, there were no significant attacks initially, although riders like Jolanda Neff and Olga Zabelinskaya were dropped early on. Just before reaching the summit, Chabbey launched a bold attack, ostensibly aiming for the QOM points, and managed to break away from the group.

Chabbey continued her solo effort on the descent into Les Diablerets and further into the Rhône valley, steadily increasing her lead to over 1:30 minutes by the time she reached Aigle. Only SD Worx-Protime seemed interested in chasing her down. The team sent Marie Schreiber on a solo pursuit to force other teams to share the workload, but this strategy did not pay off as the peloton’s deficit grew to nearly three minutes. Consequently, Femke Gerritse and Mischa Bredewold took over, setting a hard pace on the lower slopes of the finishing climb to Villars-sur-Ollon and reeling in Schreiber.

With six kilometres remaining, Bredewold swung off, having reduced the gap to 1:40 minutes. Vollering then took charge, further closing the gap with Realini joining in the effort. Together, they pulled away from the rest of the group, who could no longer keep up. The duo caught up to a struggling Chabbey just before the QOM point. Chabbey made a final push to secure the QOM jersey but was soon dropped by Vollering and Realini. After a short pause, Vollering accelerated just before the flamme rouge to drop Realini and solo to stage victory.

Rider Reactions

Demi Vollering commented on her win, “It’s never easy. But that’s the trick, to make it look easy, then you’re doing a good job. It was a strange race because it was so short with a lot of climbing, so you felt a little bit of confusion in the bunch. In the end, it was a really nice race, and although it was short, it was really hard.” She also expressed her hopes for teammate Marlen Reusser’s quick recovery, adding, “It’s really sad that we don’t have Marlen here. She’s sick, I hope she gets well soon, and I really hope we can have another win here with the team.”

Élise Chabbey reflected on her solo effort: “I knew it was a long way to go, but I committed. Coming into the final climb with such a big gap, I was hoping to be able to stay away. My legs were hurting, and it was hard mentally because I knew the gap was coming down. I’m disappointed to miss the stage win. We still have more opportunities, and I’m confident that we can do something nice again in the following stages.”

Kasia Niewiadoma praised Chabbey’s performance: “What a racer and champion Elise is! A brave attacker that never gives up. The victory is just around the corner for her. We’re so proud of her, and it was heartbreaking to see her sad at the finish line.”

Juliette Labous, who finished sixth, said, “It was a very short race, with a fast start… and it was wet. The girls did a great job positioning me for the final climb but it was just full gas from the bottom. I tried to lose as little time as possible going into the next stages, but I think sixth was a good result today. I hope that tomorrow I can do better in the TT, where I can take the climb at my own pace and make up some time.”

Neve Bradbury also reflected on the team’s strategy and her personal performance: “We planned for an attack close to the top of the first climb, and that’s exactly what happened after someone else made the first move. With Elise away, we could stay on the wheels and let the other teams react. It worked perfectly for us with Elise off the front because she can climb and descend well, putting a lot of pressure on the other teams. “The pace was on from the bottom of the final climb and was a hard effort. I’m happy with our team’s performance and also with my performance. We aim to all move up in the time trial stage tomorrow.”

2024 Tour de Suisse Women Stage 1 result

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