Thuringen and the last chance for Olympic dreams
As the men race around Italy, the women’s peloton continues to impress in Germany at the LOTTO Thüringen Ladies Tour. The fourth stage on Friday saw some movement in the general classification, but time gaps remain close with two stages left in the race.
Emma Norsgaard (Movistar) won the first stage of the LOTTO Thüringen Ladies Tour and led the general classification after stages 2 and 3, but she handed the lead over to Lucinda Brand (Trek-Segafredo) following stage four. Brand won stage 3 into Schleiz where Norsgaard took second, but the six-second lead was not enough for the Danish national champion to keep yellow on the Queen stage on Friday.
Brand has not raced as much on the road as in previous seasons, her first race back after her incredible cyclocross season and World title was Strade Bianche, although getting back into racing that earlier in the year was not the original plan. Since March Brand has raced only single-day events in Belgium and Spain as well as the Amstel Gold Race in the Netherlands. Her best result before taking the win on stage 3 was fourth at the Gran Premio Ciudad de Eibar in Spain on May 16th.
The fourth stage of the tour was won by Lotte Kopecky, who normally rides for Liv Racing but raced in Germany with the Belgian national team. Kopecky has had consistent results throughout the LOTTO Thüringen Ladies Tour placing third on the opening stage, fifth on the second stage, and third on the third stage. With two stages remaining the Belgian rider has to find four seconds to catch Brand.
For women from countries who have not yet named their Olympic teams, the LOTTO Thüringen Ladies Tour is a last-ditch effort to make the selection. Most nations announce their teams in June, but the lack of WorldTour racing on the women’s side means races like Thüringen attract more Olympic hopefuls.
The notable competitors so far have been Kopecky, Brand, and Norsgaard although Amy Pieters (SD Worx), Liane Lippert (Team DSM), Emilia Fahlin (FDJ Nouvelle Aquitaine Futuroscope), and Anna Henderson (Jumbo-Visma) have all had consistently good performances in the four stages.
Of those seven riders and their nations only Brand and Pieters home country of the Netherlands has named their Olympic team. Norsgaard, Lippert (Germany), Fahlin (Sweden) and Henderson (Great Britain) are still waiting to find out if they will race in Tokyo.
Despite her list of road results in 2020 and 2021, Kopecky will attend the Olympics to race the Madison on the track with Jolien D’Hoore.
Saturday and Sunday will be two more exciting days for the women, with two hilly courses and a close race Brand will have to fight to keep yellow from Kopecky and Norsgaard who are both within 10 seconds. Lippert sits fourth overall, 21 seconds down from Brand.