Women’s Tour of Britain: Demi Vollering takes crown as Balsamo wins final stage

Elisa Balsamo, of Italy, won the final stage of the rescheduled 2021 Women’s Tour of Britain in Felixstowe, as the 24-year‑old Demi Vollering sealed a comfortable overall victory in the week‑long event.

Vollering, of the SDWorx team, finished in the main field after Balsamo, riding for Valcar-Travel & Service, outsprinted Lorena Wiebes of Team DSM, and Chloe Hosking, riding for Trek-Segafredo. This was the 24-year-old Dutch rider’s first World Tour overall success and came courtesy of her emphatic performance in the time trial on stage three.

“I won the race in the time trial,” Vollering said. “I made a big gap and that made all of it easier for us. We only needed to control it.”

Vollering finished more than a minute ahead of Juliette Labous, of Team DSM, in the overall standings while Clara Copponi, of FDJ Nouvelle-Aquitaine Futuroscope, finished third.

The Women’s Tour of Britain, postponed from its original June date to October due to the pandemic, has now established itself as one of the most prominent women’s races on the calendar.

Lizzie Deignan, winner a week ago of the inaugural edition of the women’s Paris-Roubaix, spent the week racing in support of her teammate Hosking, one of the strongest sprinters in the women’s peloton.

“This is obviously a very prestigious race and I’m delighted it was postponed and not cancelled,” said Deignan, who finished 48th in the overall standings. “We tried every day to win a stage, which didn’t happen, but that’s cycling. It’s really nice to be able to pay your teammates back for the work they have done for you. I was just disappointed that we couldn’t deliver a win.”

Deignan is among those eagerly anticipating the unveiling of the revitalised women’s Tour de France next Thursday, alongside the route of the 2022 men’s race. After several years of lobbying by leading figures in the women’s peloton, including Deignan, ASO, the promoter of the men’s Tour de France, will reveal the route of the eight-day women’s stage race, scheduled for 24-31 July 2022, in Paris.

Asked what kind of Tour route, she was hoping for Deignan responded: “A bit of everything. I’m not one of those riders that says ‘it has to be the hardest race’. I think every type of rider can hopefully have their day there. I think it will showcase women’s cycling the best if we have a mix of stages.”

In northern Italy, Britain’s Adam Yates finished third in Il Lombardia, as Tadej Pogacar joined Fausto Coppi, Eddy Merckx and Bernard Hinault in an exclusive club of riders that have won both the Tour de France and the Tour of Lombardy in the same year.

Pogacar, on his debut appearance in the Italian Classic, made his move in the Passo di Ganda, more than 30km from the finish line, and barely looked back, the double Tour de France winner easily beating Fausto Masnada in a two‑man sprint after the Deceuninck-Quick‑Step rider had joined him on the descent. Yates pipped Primoz Roglic to the line for third place.