After the confusion around the team time trial result, Sunday afternoon saw the riders take on Stage 4, a 80km road race. Starting at Keysoe, the peloton headed south on the B660 and turned at Bolnhurst towards Bushmead Priory. Heading north past the old airfield to Little Staughton, they then continued on to Pertenhall before turning south again back toward Keysoe and up Mill Hill.
From Lap 1 the wind started to have some influence on the day’s event, stringing out the riders and helping whittle down the number of riders in the main group. As the race approached the blustery northern end of the course for the first time the riders spread over one hundred metres with a number of rider struggling to stay in touch and yellow jersey holder Amy Hill (Cycle Team OnForm) in her favoured place just off the front with team mates Sian Botteley and Anna Henderson acting as her minders.
The race proceed into the second lap and more rider were lost from the lead group as they prepared for the first sprint. As they rounded the bend towards the line, Sian Botteley sprang from the pack gaining a one bike length lead to take maximum points from Joanna Smith (Bowlphish Racing) and the yellow jersey in third. Sprints jersey holder Jenny Corser (Team RGB Building Supplies) appeared to be have miss timed her attack and missed out on any points. Later in the race Smith would get her revenge and take the second sprint and the green sprinters jersey.
As the riders approached the top end of the course for the second time the wind again punished them and contributed too -but was not the sole cause of – a number of riders crossing the white line on the road as the race approached a right hand curve, at one point more than ten rider where putting themselves in danger. This and another couple of incidents became too much for the commissaires, who stopped the race on the third lap and gave the riders a warning; this had a side effect and offered the chasing group of around ten riders an opportunity to get within striking distance of the lead group.
With Natasha Reddy (Team Vision Innovation Leisure) taking both hill competitions for maximum points on the day and confirming herself in the red jersey, the race entered the penultimate lap during which there were a couple of attempts at breaks which were not sustained. At the end of the fifth lap the leaders climbed Mill Hill with Amy Hill in her now traditional position just off the shoulder of the first couple of riders with ever present colleague Sian Botteley on her inside.
With family, friends and team colleagues gathered at the top of Mill Hill the riders prepared for the final drive to the line. As they crested the blind summit Charlotte Broughton (Team Ford EcoBoost) had a clear and decisive fifteen metre lead over Ellen McDermott (EDCO Continental), who was on a borrowed bike after the previous day’s crash, while Stage Two winner Tammara Davenne (Team Innovation Leisure) was in third. Lauren Murphy held on to the Juniors white jersey in thirteenth place, and tge yellow jersey crossed the line safely in fourteenth.
After the race we spoke to Broughton about her win. “Off road I’m used just smashing it up climbs and Corrine [Clark] and Sophie [Fennell] really mixed it in. With Corrine and Mel [Brand] bossing it with a km and half to go I kicked when I felt other would be too afraid to… I know what I am capable of and what I have done before and just believe in myself. It just worked great we all jelled together amazingly as a team.”
1 Charlotte Broughton (Ford EcoBoost)
2 Ellen McDermott (EDCO Continental)
3 Tamara Davenne (Team Vision Innovative Leisure)
Yellow Amy Hill (Team OnForm)
Juniors Lauren Murphy (GB Cycles)
QOM Natasha Reddy (Team Vision Innovative Leisure)
Sprint Joanna Smith (BowlPhish Racing)
(Text and photos © Simon F. Blackwell)