Team DSM is a squad that values teamwork very highly, and after Lorena Wiebes easily won the first two stages of the Simac Ladies Tour, they had a surprise up their sleeves.
Wiebes is the fastest pure sprinter in the women’s peloton and currently the overall race leader, but she showed her selflessness – and that she enjoys teamwork as much as winning – when she moved into a lead-out role to support her teammate Charlotte Kool to the stage 3 win.
It is one of her final races with Team DSM before transferring to rival squad SD Worx in 2023.
“We had a very nice season together, and I think it is a nice step for Charlotte to sprint next year,” said Wiebes who was happy to be able to give back to Kool, who has been her primary lead-out, in one of their last races on the same team.
Wiebes joined Team DSM, as Team Sunweb, partway through the 2020 season. This year alone she has secured 20 victories and Kool has been a big part of that success as a member of her lead-out train.
In was revealed during the Tour de France Femmes in July that Wiebes would break her contract with Team DSM, using a ‘better offer’ clause, and join SD Worx beginning in 2023 through 2025.
As of next year, Wiebes and Kool will face each other in the sprints as competitors, as Kool will then step up to become Team DSM’s main sprinter.
Wiebes has already won the two opening stages at the Simac Ladies Tour and leads the overall classification. Instead of Wiebes being delivered to another victory by her Kool, the two riders switched roles for stage 3, and Kool went on to secure her first Women’s WorldTour victory. Wiebes had enough speed to finish second, giving Team DSM a 1-2 finish in Gennep.
“Well, if you look at the sprint train we had and Lorena leading me out in the sprint, it really should work out, and it is great that we could do this again and have it work out,” said Kool after the stage.
The team had tried the same tactic earlier in the season, planning to have Wiebes lead Kool on the final stage 6 of the Women’s Tour in June after Wiebes had won stage 2 and 3. However, an attack by Elisa Longo Borghini (Trek-Segafredo) at the flamme rouge opened gaps in the peloton, and Kool and Wiebes lost each other on a chaotic final kilometre. Wiebes went on to sprint herself and won the stage into Oxford.
Kool was also given the chance to sprint at the Giro d’Italia Donne where she reached the podium three times. On stage 2, Kool finished third behind World Champion Elisa Balsamo (Trek-Segafredo) and Marianne Vos (Team Jumbo-Visma). She moved up a spot the next day to finish second behind Vos but ahead of Balsamo. On stage 5, Kool beat Vos but was herself beaten by Balsamo, showing that she is capable of taking on the best sprinters in the world.
On stage 3 of the Simac Ladies Tour, Team DSM once again proved to have the strongest lead out as Franziska Koch and Pfeiffer Georgi brought Kool and Wiebes to the front of the peloton on the final kilometre, still with Wiebes in the final position.
Georgi swung off through the last turn, a gradual right-hander 500 metres from the finish, and Wiebes smoothly went past Kool, who took her wheel.
The yellow jersey then started her incomparable sprint that has brought her 20 victories in the 2022 season so far, and she and Kool pulled away from the rest of the peloton.
With 200 metres to go, Kool launched from Wiebes’ wheel to win the stage, and Wiebes slotted back into her usual position behind Kool to take second place, posting up and raising her hands to celebrate the result 20 metres before the line.
“Lorena did a massive lead out out by switching super late before the last corner and the only thing I had to do was finish off the amazing teamwork today,” Kool said. “Three wins in a row is really special and especially how the team managed to keep the control over the day – it’s just a honour to finish it off like this.”
From 2023, Wiebes and Kool will likely face each other in many bunch sprints. With Wiebes having to adjust to a new team SD Worx, the sprints against Kool, Balsamo, and Vos as well as riders like Emma Norsgaard (Movistar Team) or Chiara Consonni (Valcar-Travel & Service) will be interesting to watch.