Wiggle High5 Pro Cycling’s Emilia Fahlin went one better than the previous day in the second stage of the Lotto Belgium Tour, in Herselt, in the province of Antwerp. The Swedish Champion was the fastest sprinter at the head of the peloton as it came within metres of catching late breakaway rider Jeanne Korevaar (Waowdeals Pro Cycling) who had escaped in the final kilometre. Fahlin beat stage one winner Lotte Kopecky (Lotto-Soudal) in the sprint, however, and closes in on the Belgian rider’s overall lead.
“One improvement on yesterday’s placing,” Fahlin laughed. “Almost… Almost there, but not quite.
“They pulled a little sneaky one there,” explained Fahlin, of Korevaar’s late escape. “They got the team on the front, and it was quite a technical last couple of kilometres with a few small roads and some really sharp corners. They were on the front with the team and in one corner they gave her a gap. It was so close to the finish that no other teams were really organised on the front, and she managed to get the gap.
“She rode strong to hold it off, but we were coming - breathing down her neck - in the sprint.”
The 110km stage was based on seven laps of a flat, but technical 15.7km circuit based on the town of Herselt. Despite rain, which arrived just before the race began an fell on the first two laps, Fahlin was able to stay safe throughout and was able to position herself well into the finale.
“I got on Lotte Kopecky’s wheel, because I know she’s a good one to follow,” Fahlin said. “She’s going super well, and she won yesterday, so I thought if there’s one wheel to pick then it’s hers. I could come out of her wheel and just get around her. I came close to Jeanne, who won the stage on the line.
“I think it was an exciting final, if you could have watched it,” she added. “Which was not possible, sadly… It was a hectic final, on small roads, and you needed to be in a good position coming into the last few kilometres.”
As the protected rider on the stage, following her consistent performances in Scandinavia in August and second place sprint on stage one, Fahlin was looked after by her Wiggle High5 Pro Cycling teammates throughout.
“All the girls did a really, really good job today,” she said. “They’ve been really encouraging to me, and they’ve always been there, keeping me out of the wind. I had a flat tyre, and they made sure I could move back up.
“I feel like I’ve had a full team committed to me, so it’s been really cool, and really nice,” Fahlin smiled. "We’ve ridden so well, finding each other in the bunch, and it’s been a really good time so far.”
Time bonuses on the line mean that Fahlin moves up to third place overall, and now trails Kopecky by just ten seconds. The Lotto Belgium Tour will be decided in its third, and toughest stage, which will feature three ascents of the iconic Muur-Kapelmuur, and finish on the uphill cobbles of Geraardsbergen.
“Tomorrow’s a really hard day. I don’t know how many times we have to go up the Muur, so I’d better go home and study the course a bit! I think tomorrow will be really different from the first few days, and it’s going to be really tough.
“It’s going to be where the GC really goes down.”
1. Jeanne Korevaar (Waowdeals Pro Cycling)
2. Emilia Fahlin (Wiggle High5 Pro Cycling)
3. Lotte Kopecky (Lotto-Soudal)
Photo Credit: Anton Vos
photo Getty Images
Photo: Rémy Gros