Lizzie Armitstead’s hopes of challenging for victory in the Energiewacht Tour were wrecked by a crash on the third stage of the race through Groningen in Holl-and.

The 25-year-old UCI Women’s World Cup leader eventually finished 13th in the general classification 1min 39sec down on winner Lucinda Fire, which was disappointing for her after impressing on the opening two stages.

The Boels-Dolmans Cycling Team director Danny Stam said: “Of course it’s a shame our General Classification contender Lizzie Armitstead fell in the third stage.

“She hit the ground at 3,2 kilometres before the finish line. If that have happened 200 metres further on she would not have lost any time and then we could have battled for the podium or even the victory. That’s called bad luck. After that incident we had to forget about the classification.”

Stam was happy with the way Otley’s Armitstead was able to sprint to the podium three times. “We knew it was almost impossible to beat Kirsten Wild in the sprints here. Lizzie was second and third in the first two stages and that was great.

“After that most of the teams did not want a sprint anymore, because that way they were only helping Wild in the lead.

“Our team did not get any space when we tried to escape with Ellen van Dijk. Others were able to get a gap and then we decided as a team not to chase them.

“We had no ambitions in the GC anymore and why should we help them after they closed the gaps to Ellen’s wheel every time?”

Stam and performance trainer Robert Slippens were very happy about the way the team performed in the team time trial around the Oldambt Lake.

The team was second only seven seconds behind world champion Specialized-Lululemon. With five riders at the start – Kasia Pawlowksa wasn’t able to start after a crash in the first stage – the riders showed their ability to fight for the medals at the team time trial world championships in Ponferrada later this year.

Slippens: “After the tests in Italy with Specialized we knew everybody had their best position possible on the time trial bike, now it’s up to us to make it a strong team performance. I saw a strong team with Ellen van Dijk and Lizzie as motor pacers.

“I don’t know whether we would have won with Kasia on board, but it would have been more of a fight. But we will work hard to make it a tough battle next time at the World Cup in Vargarda.”