Tour de Romandie Féminin stage 1: Sofia Bertizzolo wins as Carina Schrempf celebrates too early

Schrempf looked to have the stage won from a late attack, but was caught by the peloton on the line

Clock13:44, Friday 15th September 2023
Sofia Bertizzolo took the third win of her career and her first WorldTour victory

© Velo Collection (TDW) / Getty Images

Sofia Bertizzolo took the third win of her career and her first WorldTour victory

Sofia Bertizzolo (UAE Team ADQ) won stage 1 of the Tour de Romandie Féminin in remarkable fashion, throwing her bike to the line and pipping the day's late attacker Carina Schrempf (Fenix-Deceuninck).

Scrempf had attacked alone with 2.4km to go and looked set to win, but celebrated early rather than throwing her bike to the line. As such, it was Bertizzolo who was able to celebrate as Schrempf looked aghast with disbelief, whilst Mischa Bredewold (SD Worx) rounded out the day's podium in third.

Clara Honsinger of EF Education-TIBCO-SVB was the bravest rider of the day, spending almost 90km of the stage alone in the breakaway, but it was Canyon-SRAM's Kasia Niewiadoma who could perhaps earn the tag as the most aggressive rider.

The Polish opportunist attacked countless times throughout the course of the day as the peloton was gradually whittled down to a smaller collective.

The road to Yverdon-les-Bains had been littered with attacks all afternoon and Schrempf was the final rider to seek elation, but her fine move was all for nothing as the peloton caught her on the line. The Austrian will rue such a missed opportunity.

"We did it, UAE Team ADQ did it, the whole team, riders and staff. So tomorrow we will ride in yellow here at Romandie," Bertizzolo said after the finish, referring to the yellow leader's jersey she now holds.

"It means a lot, it's always a special colour because it always reminds us of the biggest race in the world [Tour de France Femmes avec Zwift]. So it's the very first time for me, so it will be emotional already from now."

Clara Honsinger tries her luck with a solo breakaway

It did not take long once the race flag had dropped in Yverdon-les-Bains for the first attack of the day to arrive, in fact, the first attack became immediately decisive with Clara Honsinger (EF Education-TIBCO-SVVB) going clear of the peloton.

Not content with hanging around for the action to unfold later on in the day, the American attacked on the descent of the first categorised climb. At 5.6% for 1.9km, the Niédens climb was a rude awakening for the riders and would be seen again, with two ascents of the climb featuring in the route.

With 134km still to ride when she went clear, Honsinger was perhaps hoping that others would join her in an opportunistic move, but it was not to be the case. Instead, the 26-year-old began a lonely solo breakaway that would soon develop a gap of over three minutes to a content peloton.

The bunch, meanwhile, ambled along at a sedate pace for the opening 50km, before FDJ-SUEZ began to gather at the front. Their ambitions in this race would be led by Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig, a recent double-stage winner at the Tour of Scandinavia.

Read more:

As the peloton neared the end of two laps around the start and finish town, the Dane's FDJ-SUEZ squad took control of the peloton's pace-setting behind the lone breakaway provocateur. The gap, once as high as almost four minutes, soon began to tumble to near the two-minute mark.

Undeterred, Honsinger continued to grind away but to little avail, with the EF Education-TIBCO-SVB hopeful caught by the peloton with 44km to ride. By this point, FDJ-SUEZ had ramped up the intensity of the peloton sufficiently so as to see attacks begin to fly from within.

Canyon-SRAM and SD Worx keen to go on the offensive

The third and final categorised climb of the day was the Arrissoules test, standing at 6.9% for 2.5km. It was not the hardest test the riders will face in this year's Tour de Romandie Féminin, but it was difficult enough to see the peloton stretched out as they crested its peak.

With the pace ramped up, Kasia Niewiadoma (Canyon-SRAM) sensed an opportunity to pounce and went clear of the group just as they came under the 40km to-go mark. Recognising the danger of Niewiadoma, Demi Vollering (SD Worx) was the first to respond, and the pair were followed by their teammates Elise Chabbey (Canyon-SRAM) and Marlen Reusser (SD Worx).

Over the next few kilometres it was Chabbey and Reusser who developed a small gap to the peloton, swiftly joined by Jumbo-Visma's Amber Kraak, but this first dangerous move of the race was immediately squashed by the peloton. Still, it remained Canyon-SRAM and SD Worx who remained the most aggressive.

Sadly for Canyon-SRAM, their presence at the head of proceedings was cruelly punished with a crash to Niewiadoma. The Polish rider suffered an innocuous crash alongside Jayco AlUla's Kristen Faulkner, who herself was making a first return to racing since fracturing her knee in June.

Read more: Kristen Faulkner injured by a car in training

Thankfully for both teams, Faulkner and Niewiadoma were soon to their feet and the race calmed down - for a few kilometres at least.

Attack, attack, attack is the order of the day in the finale

Unhappy with the swelling of the peloton, Jumbo-Visma's Eva van Agt attacked over the right hand side of the group with 34.8km to ride, a move that drew clear the likes of Niam Fisher-Black (SD Worx), Lauretta Hanson (Lidl-Trek) and Loes Adegeest (FDJ-Suez).

By now, the peloton was of much smaller number, but the bunch were still able to catch Van Agt's rabble of opportunists.

Over the next 20km, a variety of moves would go clear of the peloton before being caught, with Kraak, Van Agt, Reusser and Floortje Mackaij (Movistar) amongst the most aggressive. However, dsm-firmenich looked determined to bring the disparate groups together and put Esmée Peperkamp and Eleonora Ciabocco to work on the front.

In turn, the attacks were brought under control by the final 15km and the race experienced a brief lull before more attacks were launched inside the last 10km.

With Yverdon-les-Bains on the horizon, Ceratizit-WNT and Jumbo-Visma began to look interested in ensuring a bunch sprint, fancying their chances through Marta Lach and Fem van Empel, respectively. As was to be expected, this did not suit the whole bunch and Carina Schrempf (Fenix-Deceuninck) was among those fancying a late flyer.

The Austrian national champion took her leave from the peloton with 2.4km to go and soon opened up a sizeable lead as she threw herself through the final corners of the stage. Her legs pumped and her body remained tucked into an aerodynamic shape as the 28-year-old began to believe.

But it was to be heartbreak for Schrempf as the peloton came within touching distance through the work of Vollering.

Schrempf opened her sprint with 200m to ride and just shy of the line, inexplicably sat up to celebrate an unexpected win. With the Austrian's arms outstretched in elation, UAE Team ADQ's Sofia Bertizzolo threw her bike at the line.

There were smiles on the faces of both Bertizzolo and Schrempf across the line, but the Italian knew what the Austrian didn't - the peloton had caught her late breakaway.

Schrempf had produced a remarkable ride to get within an inch of glory but came undone by her failure to throw her bike to the line.

Heartbreak for some, ecstasy for others, lessons learned by all.

If you head to our Tour de Romandie Féminin landing page, you will find everything you need to know about the race, including our race preview, the route, and start list. Check it out for all that and more.

We’ll be showing live and on-demand coverage of all three stages of this year’s Tour de Romandie Féminin (territory restrictions apply) from Friday, September 15 to Sunday, September 17. Head over to GCN+ now to check the start times of each broadcast so that you don’t miss out on a moment of the action!

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3H 53' 10"


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Team SD Worx



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Team Jumbo-Visma



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ERIC Jelena

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21 Apr

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