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Amy Pieters holds lead in Route de France after Prologue and Stage One

Wiggle High5 Pro Cycling’s Amy Pieters held on to her ten second lead in the Route de France, after finishing third on Stage One, between St Quentin and Pontoise. The Dutch all-rounder took a dominant victory in the race’s 3.2km Prologue yesterday, then finished on the stage one podium in the tough uphill sprint.

Pieters completed yesterday’s Prologue in a time of four minutes, 18.48 seconds, with last year’s edition of the Route de France having been won by Wiggle High5 Pro Cycling’s Elisa Longo Borghini, the Dutchwoman started as last rider, wearing the number one dossard on her back. Just as she had been last year, Pieters was the quickest around the course by far, with Sarah Roy (Orica-Bike Exchange) and Floortje Mackaij (Liv-Plantur) in second and third places, ten seconds behind.

“In a prologue you just have to be as fast as possible,” Pieters smiled. I feel okay; I can’t complain, so yeah, I feel fine.

“Today it was harder, because I am riding in the gold jersey. But now we still have it and I hope that we can keep it longer.”

Wiggle High5 Pro Cycling’s Olympic Champion Dani King had been the fastest finisher for several minutes, and ended up in sixth place, just 12 seconds behind her teammate.

Stage one was characterised by a long solo break from Jip van den Bos (ParkHotel Valkenburg), who was able to get a minute and a half ahead before being pulled back in the final quarter of the stage. A late attack from Molly Weaver (Liv-Plantur) threatened to foil the peloton, but the young British rider was closed down in the final kilometre.

“[Van den Bos] was alone, and the climbs were still to come, so we were not really panicked about it. Then when we had the finish climbs she just came back, so it was fin in the end.

“Molly could attack, and I think Liv are riding strongly as a team as well, so I knew that I had to catch her back,” Pieters explained. “I knew she is one minute – or 55 seconds – behind, but still. She was going really fast and nobody was reacting to her.”

A small crash with around 300 metres to go disrupted the peloton a little, but Pieters was able to sprint to third place behind Eugenia Bujak (BTC City Ljubljana) and Mackaij. With no time bonuses on the line, Pieters ten second lead is intact, heading into stage two.

“I heard it, but I didn’t see it because it was behind me,” Pieters said. “It was a small crash, but all of Wiggle High5 was okay. So that was all right.

“One of the reasons I wasn’t too worried about Molly is that you can’t take any bonus seconds here. Once you have the leader’s jersey – I won’t say it’s easy – but it’s easier to keep it. You don’t have to worry about sprints or anything, but if there’s a break you have to be there.

“I’m still feeling good, but the hard days are still to come,” she added.

Result Prologue
1. Amy Pieters (Wiggle High5 Pro Cycling)

2. Sarah Roy (Orica-Bike Exchange)
3. Floortje Mackaij (Liv-Plantur)

Result Stage One
1. Eugenia Bujak (BTC City Ljubljana)
2. Floortje Mackaij (Liv-Plantur)
3. Amy Pieters (Wiggle High5 Pro Cycling)

Photo Credit: Jean-Marc Hecquet

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