Rabobank Ster Zeeuwsche Eilanden, Netherlands
Kamperland - Renesse, 138.7km
It looked like race leader, Marianne Vos (DSB Bank) might crack on the final stage in Zeeland. After chasing hard on Stage 2 to bring back breakaways, the DSB team were stretched again on the final stage.
Strong winds caused the race to break apart early, with a 12 rider group going away on. Kirsten Wild (AA Drink), second on general classification and Mirjam Melchers van Poppel (Team Flexpoint) were both in the break. The rider who missed it was race leader, Marianne Vos (DSB Bank). With Wild and Melchers just 18 and 19 seconds down respectively and 10 seconds available to the stage winner as bonus, Vos could not afford to allow the lead group much space.
The lead group quickly established a lead which sat at around 50 seconds ahead of the bunch for much of the race. At the front of the chasing bunch, Marianne Vos (DSB Bank) pulled some huge turns to limit her losses, helped out by team-mate, Andrea Bosman in the main. The story of the stage, though, was the effort put in by the race leader herself to protect her golden jersey.
An attack late in the stage saw two others high up on general classification get away together; Suzanne De Goede (T-Mobile) (at 27 seconds) and LoŽs Gunnewijk (Team Flexpoint) (at 34 seconds). The pair stayed away, tantalisingly, with De Goede taking the virtual race lead, with finish bonuses taken into account, at one point as their advantage grew. With around 30km to go, Vos looked beaten, sitting at the back of her chasing group, she looked 'spent' and resigned to losing the race overall on this final stage. Her long chases at the front and into the strong headwinds had taken their toll........
With the kilometres being counted down over race radio, so too, were was the size of the leading pair's gap. They were unable to stay away and the bunch came together for the finale. The bunch sprint was won by Ins-Yoko Teutenberg (T-Mobile), ahead of LoŽs Gunnewijk and LoŽs Markerink (both Team Flexpoint). Marianne Vos crossed the line in the bunch (eighth), sitting up and waving her arms in celebration at a hard-won overall victory.
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