Kool, Georgi 'the perfect two' for Dutch rider's win at RideLondon Classique
Charlotte Kool (Team DSM) was unphased by the uphill finish as she powered to victory at stage 1 of the RideLondon Classique in Colchester ahead of Clara Copponi (FDJ SUEZ) and Lizzie Deignan (Trek Segafredo).
Kool won from the reduced group sprint after she and teammate Pfeiffer Georgi made it into the decisive move that saw 14 riders separate from the peloton with 29km remaining. She leads the overall general classification by 6 seconds ahead of Copponi, thanks to bonus seconds.
The final rise to the line was far from flat, but the Dutch sprinter was led out brilliantly by Georgi, a former British Champion on the road, and was able to kick past Copponi easily before crossing the line.
“I was quite confident. Of course, it’s uphill, but it’s not a long climb, it’s just a drag. In training I really like to sprint uphill,” said Kool about the finish. “It's harder because you already come in with a higher heart rate, but I was quite confident, especially after the lead out of Pfeiffer, that I could finish it off.”
RideLondon Classique: Charlotte Kool wins reduced bunch sprint on stage 1
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The British rider worked well to stop Lizzie Deignan (Trek Segafredo) and Lauretta Hanson (Trek Segafredo) from breaking away as they were forced to attack to try and win after their sprinter, Elisa Balsamo (Trek Segafredo), abandoned the race due to crashing twice.
“We heard that Elisa stepped off so we knew we could expect Trek to attack in the end,” said Kool.
Georgi then had enough left in the tank to do a huge turn on the front in the final few kilometres and complete the lead out on the uphill run to the line for Kool.
“We had Pfeiffer [Georgi] and me, the perfect two, in the front so we could play the game a bit,” Kool said.
“Pfeiffer [Georgi] did perfect by countering attacks and then she did an amazing lead out. The only thing I had to do was finish it off so I’m really proud of her and the rest of the team.”
Kool has cemented herself as one of the finest sprinters in the women’s pro peloton throughout 2023, with four victories at World Tour level, but last year at this race she was part of the team that led out Lorena Wiebes (SD Worx) to a clean sweep of the three stages and the overall win.
Wiebes’ final lead-out rider used to be her Dutch compatriot before she transferred to SD Worx, but Kool has since stepped up and managed to beat the SD Worx sprinter head-to-head at the UAE Tour twice. Wiebes has had her fair share of success over her ex-teammate as well, beating her on a UAE Tour stage and at Scheldeprijs.
With no SD Worx on the start line of RideLondon however, we’ll have to wait a bit longer to see them duel again in a sprint. Kool said: “I think it would have been a nice battle [with Wiebes], but they chose to go somewhere else.”
Stage 2 starts and finishes in Maldon as the first stage of last year’s race did, but the parcours is hillier this time with another repetition of a 22km circuit containing North Hill and another uphill finale.
Kool didn’t lack confidence with the tougher parcours on the menu and after today’s strong performance, why would she?
“I had some really good legs today and I hope tomorrow to also have good legs,” said Kool. “I think we can go for it again tomorrow and try to keep the GC.”
If Kool is unable to survive the climbs, DSM will also have Georgi as an option on a punchier route, especially after her successful spring Classics campaign in 2023. She sits 10th overall going into the final two stages, 12 seconds behind her teammate.