In what could be described as a David versus Goliath scenario, the Wheel Divas, a team less fancied on the startlist compared to many bigger names at this race, have made a significant mark at the Gracia Orlova. Over four gruelling days and five challenging stages, the Berlin-based team, rife with determination and strategy, turned their underdog status into a narrative of triumph. Corinna Lechner, winner of Stage 1, was able to hold off the challengers and secure an overall GC win in a UCI 2.2 level race.

From the onset, the Wheel Divas set ambitious goals. “Our target was not just to participate but to make an impact, aiming for the best German team and a top general classification spot,” said a team spokesperson.

“It’s incredible to write our names in the history books with not just participation but prominent placements on such a prestigious platform,” said the team.

Stage 5

Liv AlUla Jayco’s Emma Jeffers surged to victory in the final stage, marking her second consecutive win at the race after a win yesterday. The young British rider led her team to a commanding performance throughout the five-day UCI 2.2 stage race, securing not only stage wins but also a notable third-place finish in the general classification for teammate Urška Žigart.

The 101.6 km stage was marked by numerous breakaway attempts, all of which were reeled in by a vigilant peloton, with Jeffers’s team playing a pivotal role. The squad’s strategy was to maintain control and set up Jeffers for the sprint, a plan that unfolded flawlessly. “The team was amazing again today,” Jeffers reflected post-race. “We covered all moves and controlled the race. The lead-out was perfect, and I’m thrilled to repay their hard work with another win.”

Meanwhile, AG Insurance-NXTG U23 also concluded the race on a high note, with Mirre Knaven clinching fourth in the day’s stage and securing second overall in the general classification. The team’s consistent performance across all stages saw them also taking home the team classification, with Lore De Schepper grabbing both the mountain and the green jerseys.

“We gave it our all to win the overall classification, although it wasn’t to be,” said a reflective Knaven. She highlighted the team’s unity and strategy, particularly in the final stage, where despite numerous attacks, they kept the race together for a sprint finish. De Schepper added, “Our tactics were to support Mirre for the sprint, and she did fantastically to finish fourth today.”

The challenging conditions, including a course adjustment due to snowfall which removed the toughest climb, tested all riders. However, AG Insurance-NXTG U23 adapted their tactics accordingly, showcasing their resilience and teamwork.

The final standings placed three of their riders in the top ten overall, with De Schepper praising the team’s efforts: “This was a very successful week. We rode fantastically as a team.”

As the peloton now moves on from the Czech Republic, both Liv AlUla Jayco and AG Insurance-NXTG U23 can take pride in their achievements at Gracia Orlova, setting a high standard for the rest of the season.

2024 Gracia Orlova Stage 5 result

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2024 Gracia Orlova GC result

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