Elise Chabbey’s not too shabby tactics at the Tour de Suisse

Odds were on Lizzie Deignan to win the fist stage of the Tour de Suisse Women on Saturday, but up-and-coming Elise Chabbey defied the odds to take her first professional win.

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The first stage of the inaugural Tour de Suisse Women ended in a two-person sprint between former world champion and all-around legend Lizzie Deignan and new and exciting talent Elise Chabbey.

In the final 200 meters, the odds favored Deignan taking her first win of 2021. Deignan has had a rough start to the 2021 season. She was unable to race Strade Bianche or the Ardennes one-days due to illness and returned to racing at the Internationale Lotto Thüringen Ladies Tour on May 30 after more than seven weeks off.

Even with a less than optimal Classics campaign, Deignan has won countless sprints, the most recent being La Course by the Tour de France in 2020 where she out-sprinted Marianne Vos.

With 400 meters to go Chabbey looked like she was about to start her sprint. She stood up like she was going to go, forcing Deignan to jump, before slotting onto Deginan’s wheel and enjoying some time in the draft. Deignan was forced to sprint for a lot longer than she would have hoped and in the final 50 meters, and the Swiss national champion came around Deignan to take her first-ever non-national championship win. Basically, Deignan led Chabbey out.

Chabbey beating Deignan may have been a shock in the moment, but looking back on Chabbey’s season it’s not entirely surprising. So far in 2021 Chabbey has been one of the strongest Canyon-SRAM riders at every race. She was second in the opening stage of the Vuelta a Burgos in May and even wore the leader’s jersey for a stage after riding in support of her other teammates all Spring.

The way Chabbey beat Deignan was impressive. It takes calculated risk and a lot of power to execute a move as Chabbey did. Deignan admitted that she made a mistake in closing meters. “I felt strong, I just messed it up in the finish,” Deignan admitted after the stage. “We were in the perfect situation, but unfortunately, I totally messed up the sprint, so it is on me, really.”

In her post-race interview, Chabbey was understandably excited, it’s not every day you can win at home in the national champion kit.

“I’m really happy,” Chabbey said at the finish. “I still can’t believe [I beat Lizzie Deignan], she’s one of the best sprinters in the world. It’s crazy. Actually, I just trusted what the DS told me in the car, and I really followed what they told me. I mean it worked, so it was quite crazy. I started my sprint really early, and then pretended to go and then went [behind] the wheel, then went again. I saw I was coming next to her and I was like oh my god I will do it.”

In the final 300 meters of the Tour de Suisse Women Chabbey outsmarted one of the greats making her a rider to watch for the future. With this win, one can only hope that Chabbey gets more opportunities to race for victory for Canyon-SRAM in the coming months.

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