After finishing on the podium of the first three stages, Wiggle High5 Pro Cycling’s Lisa Brennauer took victory in stage four, in Gera, eastern Germany. The former German Champion outsprinted Ellen van Dijk (Team Sunweb) and Elena Cecchini (Canyon-SRAM) in the race for the line on the fast, twisty, cobbled finishing straight.
“It was a bit complicated,” Brennauer said. “I knew the final, and there were some corners in the last kilometre. Then you cross the tramlines, and you end up on some cobbles - some nice cobbles that, at some point, end up really bad cobbles - so it was another tricky final.
“Today I really wanted to do a long sprint, and go for it and not get blocked in or anything, so I wanted to go pretty early. It’s really cool after the third and second places, I think it was cool now to win a stage. Yeah, it’s nice.
“We’ve been doing great work as a team, so we’re really happy!”
The 114km stage, which featured the famous, steep “Steile Wand” in the town of Meerane, saw the peloton break and reform several times, but a large breakaway group that formed in the middle of the day saw Brennauer follow a number of her rivals for both the stage, and the race overall.
“It was super-busy,” she said. “Sunweb attacked us at a very unexpected moment, I have to say, and I just managed to get into the break. Then I was in this breakaway with five Sunwebs and some riders from other teams, and I had a flat tyre.
“It was a really bad moment because the team cars weren’t yet allowed to come up to us. I thought the day was over, but I went to the neutral car and it turned out that I made it back to the front group. I thought ‘now I’m back I really want to go for it!’
“At first I had thought that the day was gone, and the whole Tour was over, and suddenly I was back in the game and I thought I have to do this now!
“Sunweb started attack a lot from there. I gambled a bit and stayed with the ones that I thought would be my main GC contenders. Then my team came back. This was the great thing. The team came back and then worked so hard to open up new opportunities for us.”
Once the peloton had come back together there were several more attacks, with Wiggle High5 Pro Cycling’s Emilia Fahlin involved in the break that almost stayed away to the finish.
“Emilia again was in almost a situation to go for the stage win,” Brennauer explained. “Because she bridged to two riders that were still up the front and we only caught them with about 3km to go.
“Then it came down to the sprint and I really, really wanted to win this stage! I’m so happy and I think the whole team is too. They’ve been doing a really great job again today, and riding so well. Martina [Ritter] and Emilia had been in the early break as well, so everybody was working hard and they are just super-happy and relieved that we had a stage win.”
Time bonuses mean that Brennauer moves closer to the overall race leader, Coryn Rivera (Team Sunweb) and now trails by just six seconds.
1. Lisa Brennauer (Wiggle High5 Pro Cycling)
2. Ellen van Dijk (Team Sunweb)
3. Elena Cecchini (Canyon-SRAM)
Photo Credit: Vélofocus