With a late change of course, Stage 2 used the Great Barford course rather than the intended one around Renhold. Following an extended neutralised ride from the race HQ, the riders joined the course proper and the commissaire pulled in the flag. From the beginning a relevantly high pace was set and as the riders crossed the hilltop finish line with four laps to go, some riders had started to lose touch with the peloton; by half way round the first full lap eleven riders had dropped off the back. The occasional attempt to get away from the likes of Sian Botteley (Cycle Team OnForm) were quickly shut down.
With two sprints to be contested, Jenny Corser (Team RGB Building Supplies) was the surprise in the pack taking both for a maximum 10 points. In the hills competition, yellow jersey holder Amy Hill (Cycle Team On Form) took the first, with Natasha Reddy (Team Vision Innovative Leisure) second and Joscelin Lowden (Aprire Cycles-HSS Hire) third. The second hill contested was a close affair with Lowden crossing the line just ahead of Corrine Clarke (Team Ford Ecoboost) and Ready in third.
The race entered the penultimate lap with the lead group reduced to less than thirty riders and dropped riders forming a number of smaller groups. On the climb up the hill to the bell, Lowden and Reddy continued to dominate, putting the lead group under pressure and managing gain a few metres gap temporarily. As the Bell sounded Hill, who had kept the yellow jersey prominent for the whole of the race was tucked in at the front of the peloton.
With the lead group still together, they turned the final corner and started the assent of the finish hill for the last time. Within seconds there was a crash midway back in the peloton, taking down Lowden, sprints winner Corser, Adele Martin (Ford EcoBoost) as well as a number of others.
As the leaders continued the climb to the finish Team Vision Innovative Leisure got organised with Reddy and Madeleine Gammons leading out team mate Tamara Davenne; then, as they drew near to the finish, Davenne had a three bike length lead over the yellow jersey with Lauren Murphey (GB Cycles) in third place. With Amy Hill rapidly closing in, Davenne crossed the line with a one length advantage, Gammons maintained her drive for the line and edged out Murphy for third by inches.
With her second place on Stage 2, Hill retained the yellow jersey. Gammons’s fourth place lifted her in the junior riders white jersey.
1 Tamara Davenne (Team Vision Innovative Leisure) 1h34’35”
2 Amy Hill (Team on Form) ST
3 Madeline Gammons (Team Vision Innovative Leisure; Junior) ST
Yellow Amy Hill (Team OnForm)
Juniors Lauren Murphy (GB Cycles)
QOM Joscelin Lowden** (Aprire-HSS)
Sprint Jenny Corser (RGB Building Supplies)
** Unfortunately, after a crash at the end of stage 2, Joscelin Lowden was unable to start Stage 3 and therefore the QOM jersey was awarded to Natasha Reddy of Team Vision Innovative Leisure.
(Text and photos © Simon F. Blackwell)