Wiggle High5 Pro Cycling’s Lisa Brennauer began the defence of her Lotto Thüringen Ladies Tour title with a third place in the opening stage in Schleusingen, eastern Germany. The former German Champion crossed the cobbled finish line just behind the battle for victory between specialist sprinters Coryn Rivera (Team Sunweb) and Roxane Fournier (FDJ-Nouvelle-Aquitaine-Futuroscope), with the American coming out on top over the Frenchwoman.
“I think it’s really good. It’s a good start to the Tour,” Brennauer said. “Maybe I was a little bit too safe, you know how it is when there is a sharp going into the last 2-300 metres, everybody wants to be in front…
“I’m super happy, first of all, that we took the third place. The team rode very well, they tried to put me in a really good position - which they did - and everybody was trying their best to be in the front, and to help and position me well.
“So I’m super happy with the way the team rode today and I think third place is really good.
With the finish line at the top of a short climb, on a twisting cobbled road, Brennauer was careful not to take too many risks, but still managed to be close enough to the front to contest the sprint.
“This is also a big part of this Tour. The finals here are always tricky most of the time, but everyone was still there, fighting for position. Maybe I went around the last corner in ninth or tenth, but I’m happy with that because sometimes you have to choose to stay safe. I think it was really good, and third is very good."
The 82.5km stage, based on seven laps of a 12.2km circuit around the Bertholdsburg of Schleusingen’s old city, saw several attempts to break away from single riders and groups of two. None was able to get more than a few seconds clear before the fast-moving peloton pulled them back.
“Sunweb was really dominating,” Brennauer explained. “They were going for all the intermediate sprints and trying to keep control of the bunch and everything. They put a lot of energy into this first stage and showed that they want to want to play a big role here this week.
“It’s going to be a really exciting week,” she added. “Usually the time trial is somewhere in the middle, but now they’ve put it at the end, which in my opinion will make the race a lot more unpredictable in terms of team tactics throughout the week.
“Everything can change on the last day, which is interesting and something new in this race that I’ve done so many years already. So it’s quite exciting!”
Her third place finish also earned Brennauer the Blue and White Jersey as Best German Rider on the stage.
1. Coryn Rivera (Team Sunweb)
2. Roxane Fournier (FDJ-Nouvelle-Aquitaine-Futuroscope)
3. Lisa Brennauer (Wiggle High5 Pro Cycling)
Photo Credit: Vélofocus