The queen stage of this year’s UAE Tour Women finish atop the tough climb of Jebel Hafeet which averages almost seven percent in gradient for over ten kilometres. To get to the climb though, the peloton would have to navigate predominantly flat terrain which on first inspection didn’t seem like it would cause any issues. However, Team DSM started with a plan and at around 40 kilometres to go the team came forward en masse and alongside a few other teams, split the peloton into three in the wind.
With Charlotte Kool, Daniek Hengeveld, Franziska Koch and Maeve Plouffe all doing some big turns at the front, we were well positioned as a group heading onto the climb, looking to protect climbing finisher Esmée Peperkamp. Road captain Pfeiffer Georgi showed her climbing legs too and stayed with Peperkamp for as long as possible before Trek turned up the pace at around seven kilometres to go. With the group whittling down one-by-one, Peperkamp found herself in the trio at the head of the race, alongside two Trek riders. Digging deep, she ultimately had to let go of the wheels and rode at her own tempo before being caught by some chasers in the closing three kilometres. Showing grit and determination, Peperkamp managed to follow the attack from her new group – pushing all the way to the line to take a strong fourth place finish – her best ever UCI Women’s WorldTour result, and as a result moves into eighth on GC.