Brits at the Tour de l’Ardèche

Two British teams, the Racing Chance Foundation (technically a charity rather than a team) and Corley Cycles-Drops RT sent squads to compete in the Tour Cycliste Féminin International de l’Ardèche which took place between the 2nd and 7th of September. In addition,  Corley Cycles-Drops sent Tamiko Butler from Antigua.

More British riders featured on other teams. Sharon Laws, who at 41 remains one of the strongest climbers in the peloton, was with the Mixte International squad, Lucy Coldwell was with her usual Maxx-Solar team and Jessie Walker was with her team Servetto-Footon.

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Results below

RCFJerseyRacing Chance Foundation
Bex Rimmington
Alice Cobb
Amy Gornall
Chloe Fraser
Beth Hayward

CorleyJerseyCorley Cycles-Drops RT
Tamiko Butler
Jennifer George
Laura Massey
Hannah Payton
Becky Womersley
Abi Van Twisk

 

 

 

Stages and Results

Laura

Laura Massey and Becky Womersley (© Corley Cycles-Drops/Bob Varney)

Stage 1 (02.09) La Voulte to Beauchastel 82.7km (flat)

“Today has been a proper good day. We were all more than a little bit nervous to be honest but settled into proceedings effortlessly, from the outside anyway…!” – Bob Varney, Corley Cycles-Drops manager

Stage 1 – Roxane Fournier (Poitou-Charentes.Futuroscope.86) 2h08’28”
38 Jessie Walker (Servetto-Footon) +09″
45 Sharon Laws (Mixte Internationale) ST
54 Lucy Coldwell (Maxx-Solar) ST
66 Jennifer George (Corley Cycles-Drops) ST
68 Becky Womersley (Corley Cycles-Drops) ST
85 Amy Gornall (Racing Chance Foundation) +20″
87 Chloe Fraser (Racing Chance Foundation) ST
90 Hannah Payton (Corley Cycles-Drops) ST
93 Laura Massey (Corley Cycles-Drops) ST
95 Tamiko Butler (Corley Cycles-Drops) ST
99 Alice Cobb (Racing Chance Foundation) ST
102 Bethany Hayward (Racing Chance Foundation) ST
104 Bex Rimmington (Racing Chance Foundation) ST
122 Abi Van Twisk (Corley Cycles-Drops) +13’55”
Full result
Team Classification
21 Corley Cycles-Drops
24 Racing Chance Foundation
Full result

 

AbiVanTwisk2W

There’s something rather “Pooleyan” about Abi Van Twisk…

Stage 2 (03.09) TT St Martin d’Ardèche to Saint Just 10.7km (rolling)

No real surprise as the two British time trial specialists make gains on the Tour’s only race against the clock: Alice Cobb jumped a huge 55 places to 55th place overall, but Lucy Coldwell’s jump of 43 places was sufficient to get her near the top ten – and while she may be a TT specialist, she’s got the skills she needs to possibly translate that into a good overall result given a bit of luck. Note also that Abi Van Twisk moved up one place: the 17-year-old isn’t far off the bottom of the GC, but there are some big mountains to come – and more than one person has said there’s something, shall we say, rather “Pooleyan” about Abi. Like many a climber (including Pooley), it might take a little while for her to learn not to lose any gains she makes on the climbs on the descents; but she could single herself out as a rider worth keeping an eye on in the future.

Stage 2 – Winner: Lauren Stephens (Tibco) 16.18.37″
9 Lucy Coldwell (Maxx-Solar) 17’03.18″ (GC 11th; +43 places)
44 Alice Cobb (Racing Chance Foundation) 17’55.75″ (GC 53rd; +55)
48 Sharon Laws (Mixte Internationale) 18’0.48″ (GC 47th; -2)
51 Jessie Walker (Servetto-Footon) 18’3.28″ (GC 49th; -13)
68 Hannah Payton (Corley Cycles-Drops) 18’19.85″ (GC 73rd; +17)
69 Bex Rimmington (Racing Chance Foundation) 18’20.22″ (GC 74th; +35)
79 Chloe Fraser (Racing Chance Foundation) 18’25.02″ (GC 79th; +8)
89 Laura Massey (Corley Cycles-Drops) 18’40.41″ (GC 89th; +4)
90 Jennifer George (Corley Cycles-Drops) 18’42.51″ (GC 83rd; -24)
92 Amy Gornall (Racing Chance Foundation) 18’44.09″ (GC 91st; -7)
93 Becky Womersley (Corley Cycles-Drops) 18’44.67″ (GC 85th; -25)
100 Bethany Hayward (Racing Chance Foundation) 18’52.22″ (GC 95th; +2)
114 Tamiko Butler (Corley Cycles-Drops) 19’22.89″ (GC 106th; -19)
121 Abi Van Twisk (Corley Cycles-Drops) 20’11.11″ (GC 121st; +1)

 

Jessie

Jessie Walker

Stage 3 (03.09) Le Pouzin to Cruas 64km (mountain)

Abi Van Twisk has all the hallmarks of a great climber, but she’s not the only climber from the British Isles in the Tour – there is also Scottish 21-year-old Chloe Fraser, who made the biggest gain of any British rider as the terrain turned upward today when she jumped 34 places to 45th overall. Jessie Walker’s gain of 14 places, however, got her up to 35th, while Lucy Coldwell lost seven places but remained the top Brit overall.

Stage 3 – Winner: Tayler Wiles (Mixte Reva Cycling Ladies) 1h47’15”
20 Jessie Walker (Servetto-Footon) +1’21” (GC 35th; +14 places)
29 Lucy Coldwell (Maxx-Solar) ST (GC 18th; -7)
32 Sharon Laws (Mixte Internationale) ST (GC 33rd; +14)
46 Chloe Fraser (Racing Chance Foundation) ST (GC 45th; +34 places)
57 Tamiko Butler (Corley Cycles-Drops) 4’27” (GC 76th; +30)
65 Hannah Payton (Corley Cycles-Drops) 5’11” (GC 76th; -3)
71 Bethany Hayward (RCF) ST (GC 79th; +16)
72 Laura Massey (Corley Cycles-Drops) ST (GC 77th; +12)
81 Bex Rimmington (RCF) ST (GC 72nd; +2″)
82 Alice Cobb (RCF) ST (GC 64th; -11)
91 Becky Womersley (Corley Cycles-Drops) 10’06” (GC 90th; -5)
93 Jennifer George (Corley Cycles-Drops) +10’10” (GC 91st; -8)
94 Amy Gornall (RCF) ST (GC 92nd; -1)
126 Abi Van Twisk (Corley Cycles-Drops) +15’34” (GC 122nd; -1)

 

Stage 4 (04.09) Privas to Villeneuve de Berg 115.2km (mountain)

Scandolara. She may be small but she’s one of the toughest riders in the world today, able to attack, attack again and then attack a bit more… and then repeat the process, several times. When you see her name at the top of the results, you can be certain it was a hard, harsh and aggressive race – which just goes to show Becky Womersley must have put in an absolutely spectacular performance today to have been awarded the Combativity prize.

Stage 3 was a mixed bag for the Brits, with seven gaining time overall while seven lost time. Today was far better with 12 out of 14 riders making gains, in some cases significant gains: Womersley and Amy Gornall both leaped 24 places, building the foundations of what might prove to be a good final GC result.

Jessie Walker was once again the fastest British rider over the line, finishing 18th in Scandolara’s group and moving up 14 GC places as a result; she is now in 21st place overall and thanks to her experience gained with her old team Matrix Pro Cycling is very likely to finish the final stage in a good position. However, she is not yet the top Brit: Lucy Coldwell also finished in the first group albeit fractionally behind Walker, taking 19th. She thus moved up four places in the GC and is now in 14th place overall.

Laura Massey also made a big gain today, moving up to 58th place. Laura’s another exceptionally tough and determined rider; keep an eye on her in the next few stages.

LucyColdwell2W

Lucy Coldwell is the top Brit in the GC

Stage 4 – Wiiner: Valentina Scandolara (Mixte Reva Cycling Ladies) 3h35’26”
18 Jessie Walker (Servetto-Footon) ST (GC 21st; +14 places)
19 Lucy Coldwell (Maxx-Solar) ST (GC 14th; +4)
41 Chloe Fraser (Racing Chance Foundation) +7’56” (GC 42nd; +3)
42 Sharon Laws (Mixte Internationale) ST (GC 38th; -5)
48 Laura Massey (Corley Cycles-Drops) +10’43” (GC 59th; +18)
50 Hannah Payton (Corley Cycles-Drops) ST (GC 58th; +18)
53 Alice Cobb (Racing Chance Foundation) ST (GC 55th; +9)
54 Becky Womersley (Corley Cycles-Drops) ST (GC 66th; +24)
62 Bethany Hayward (Racing Chance Foundation) ST (GC 60th; +19)
64 Amy Gornall (Racing Chance Foundation) +11’31” (GC 68th; +24)
78 Tamiko Butler (Corley Cycles-Drops) +20’00” (GC 78th; -2)
82 Bex Rimmington (Racing Chance Foundation) ST (GC 77th; -5)
85 Jennifer George (Corley Cycles-Drops) +24’36” (GC 90th; +1)
110 Abi Van Twisk (Corley Cycles-Drops) +40’50” (GC 118th; +4)
Points
21 Lucy Coldwell (Maxx-Solar)
Teams (Overall)
16 Racing Chance Foundation
17 Corley Cycles-Drops
Juniors
7 Jessie Walker
16 Chloe Fraser
21 Alice Cobb
22 Hannah Payton
23 Bethany hayward
27 Becky Womersley
28 Amy Gornall
52 Abi Van Twisk

 
Stage 5 (05.09) La Grand Combe to Mont Lozère 97.4km (high mountain)

Tamiko

Tamiko Butler made the biggest gains today, rising 14 places in the General Classification

A hors categorie mountain in a women’s race isn’t something you see every day, which is especially unfortunate from a British point of view as our country produced perhaps the greatest female grimpeur of all time in the (diminutive) shape of Emma Pooley. Stage 5 featured just such a climb, though: roughly halfway along today’s parcours, rising up from the altimetry profile like… well, like a 1500m HC mountain, was the Col du Pré de la Dame with an average gradient of 6% and some nasty little ramps of over 14%*. And then, following a fast 10km descent, more climbing – in fact, all but a few kilometres of the remaining 35 were uphill, concluding with a Cat. 1 ascent to the finish line at the top of the Station de pleine nature de Lozère.

Not an easy stage, then, and one that’s impossible to replicate anywhere in the British Isles; something that a British rider can only experience if she has the opportunity to race in Europe, which very few do. Yet all 14 British riders (and Tamiko Butler, who’s from Antigua but rides for a British team) finished within the time limit today, and ten of them actually increased their positions in the General Classification – including Lucy Coldwell, who remains the best-placed British rider and rises to 13th place overall.

*A huge chapeau to the race organisers for showing sufficient faith in the abilities of the riders that they put a climb such as that into the route, by the way! Let’s hope more races follow this example and give the female climbers more opportunity to show what they can do.

Stage 5 – Winner: Krista Doebel-Hickok (Tibco) 3h29’54”
27 Lucy Coldwell (Maxx-Solar) +1’37” (GC 13th; +1 place)
33 Chloe Fraser (Racing Chance Foundation) +3’39” (GC 32nd; +10)
38 Tamiko Butler (Corley Cycles-Drops) +9’53” (GC 64th; +14)
41 Alice Cobb (Racing Chance Foundation) +10’28 (GC 50th; +5)
43 Amy Gornall (Racing Chance Foundation) +11’31” (GC 62nd; +6)
51 Laura Massey (Corley Cycles-Drops) +14’32” (GC 58th; +1)
55 Jessie Walker (Servetto-Footon) +14’38” (GC 36th; -15)
57 Becky Womersley (Racing Chance Foundation) ST (GC 65th; +1)
60 Hannah Payton (Corley Cycles-Drops) ST (GC 57th; +1)
61 Sharon Laws (Mixte Internationale) ST (GC 47th; -9)
79 Bex Rimmington (Racing Chance Foundation) +21’45” (GC 76th; +1)
91 Bethany Hayward (Racing Chance Foundation) +24’15” (GC 71st; -11)
95 Jennifer George (Corley Cycles-Drops) +25’57” (GC 90th; no change)
102 Abi Van Twisk (Corley Cycles-Drops) +40’23” (GC 113rd; +5)
Points (Overall)
24 Lucy Coldwell
Teams (Overall)
11 Racing Chance Foundation
17 Corley Cycles-Drops
Juniors (Overall)
10 Chloe Fraser
12 Jessie Walker
18 Alice Cobb
20 Hannah Payton
23 Amy Gornall
28 Bethany Hayward
49 Abi Van Twisk

 
Stage 6 (06.09) Pierrelatte to Grignan 136.3km (mountain)

LauraMassey006w

A big chapeau to Laura Massey, who made the biggest gains of any British rider today and jumped seven places to 51st. Especially impressive on a mountainous stage, considering she’s from Cambridge!

Stage 5, as we’ve seen, presented the British riders with an obstacle they’ll never face while riding in Britain. Stage 6 presented one that could easily be replicated in this country but rarely is (and thus is one of the main reasons that British riders, used to the surfeit of crits and sub-60km races we have over here, have trouble when they go over to the Continent and race against the Belgians, French, Dutch and Germans): 137km.

So how did they go? All but two either gained time or held their previous GC positions, but by one or two places. Three – Walker, Laws and Massey – made bigger gains; the first two are, of course, far more experienced in European racing than the rest of the Brits (Walker previously raced for Matrix, which always striven to endow its riders with the sort of skills they’ll need to enjoy a successful career, whereas Laws at 41 years of age has more experience than many pelotons. Massey doesn’t have as much European experience, but, well, she’s Laura Massey – a phenomenally strong rider). This demonstrates the value of what organisations such as Corley Cycles-Drops and the Racing Chance Foundation are doing when they take young riders to events such as the Tour de l’Ardeche, where they gain the knowledge and experience they’ll need if they’re going to have a shot at becoming world class riders.

Abi Van Twisk is no longer part of the race – she proved yesterday that she has what it takes to race in the mountains with some of the best riders in the world and she did brilliantly well to not only remain in the GC but actually gain time over the preceding stages, but there’s no point in her continuing and risking the sort of fatigue that, bearing in mind her youth and inexperience (she only left school this summer!), could put a serious dent in her off-season training for the rest of this year. We’ll be seeing a lot more of Abi in the future.

Stage 6 – Winner: Ani-Li Kachelhoffer (S. African National Team) 4h02’15”
28 Jessie Walker (Servetto-Footon) +1’06” (GC 33rd; +3 places)
31 Sharon Laws (Mixte Internationale) ST (GC 42nd; +5)
37 Lucy Coldwell (Maxx-Solar) ST (GC 14th; -1)
41 Laura Massey (Corley Cycles-Drops) ST (GC 51st; +7)
64 Hannah Payton (C) +5’25” (GC 56th; +1)
71 Chloe Fraser (Racing Chance Foundation) ST (GC 36th; -4)
72 Alice Cobb (RCF) ST (GC 50th; no change)
75 Becky Womersley (C) +8’14” (GC 64th; +1)
76 Jennifer George (C) ST (GC 88th; +2)
77 Tamiko Butler (C) ST (63rd; +1)
79 Amy Gornall (RCF) ST (GC 61st; +1)
80 Bex Rimmington (RCF) ST (GC 75th; +1)
86 Bethany Hayward (RCF) ST (GC 69th; +2)
Points (Overall)
27 Lucy Coldwell
Teams (Overall)
17 Corley Cycles-Drops
22 Racing Chance Foundation
Juniors (Overall)
10 Jessie Walker
12 Chloe Fraser
19 Alice Cobb
22 Hannah Payton
25 Amy Gornall
27 Becky Womersley

 
Stage 7 (07.09) Saint Sauveur de Montagut to Vallon Pont D’Arc 128.3km (mountain)

ChloeFraser10001w

Chloe Fraser, riding for the Racing Chance Foundation and seen here in her Team Rytger kit at the National TT Championships, made the biggest gains today – she jumped 37 places into 34th overall

Everyone loves a solo break, and the one delivered by Lauren Komanski (Twenty16) was the stuff of legend, earning her the stage victory by a minute and a half – a superb end to what has been an exceptionally entertaining race. Chapeau Lauren!

The fourteen-strong chase group that finished next contained one British rider in the shape of Sharon Laws (Mixte International), proving she can still mix it with the best now she’s 41 years of age. There’s plenty of evidence to show that women are able to maintain an athletic peak for longer than men; Sharon and the several other women of her age and older who are still competing on the international stage demonstrate there’s really no need for female riders to give up in their mid 30s unless they choose to do so.

Jessie Walker provided the most dramatic moment of the race when, chasing to rejoin her group on a fast descent, she misjudged a bend and went over the edge. Fortunately a tree broke her fall before she disappeared into the void and, save for bruises and grazes, she’s unhurt.

Lucy Coldwell finished top ten in the time trial and has performed consistently well ever since, which served to preserve a good time even on those days when she lost time such as today. She is the top British rider overall, ending up in 16th place overall and is the only Brit to make it into the final Points classification.

It’s probably fair to say neither British team really expected to still be riding as strongly as they were by the final stage, but a look at the final General Classification and how it’s changed since yesterday reveals that far from surviving the remaining kilometres in the autobus, six of them actually gained time: most impressively of all, Chloe Fraser who jumped 37 places to finish in 34th place – ahead of vastly more experienced Laws and Walker.

RCF2

Racing Chance Foundation sign on before the final stage (© Rene Groot)

Stage 7 – Winner: Lauren Komanski (Twenty-16) 3h53’57”
12 Sharon Laws (Mixte Internationale) +1’30”
30 Lucy Coldwell (Maxx-Solar) +2’20”
42 Chloe Fraser (Racing Chance Foundation) +4’50”
48 Alice Cobb (Racing Chance Foundation) +6’04”
57 Tamiko Butler (Corley Cycles-Drops) +6’49”
62 Laura Massey (Corley Cycles-Drops) +12’58”
63 Jessie Walker (Servetto-Footon) ST
64 Bethany Hayward (Racing Chance Foundation) ST
77 Amy Gornall (Racing Chance Foundation) +21’33”
80 Bex Rimmington (Racing Chance Foundation) +24’39”
85 Jennifer George (Corley Cycles-Drops) +33’09”
86 Becky Womersley (Corley Cycles-Drops) ST
87 Hannah Payton (Corley Cycles-Drops) ST
Final General Classification – Tayler Wiles (Mixte Reva) 19h17’28”
16 Lucy Coldwell +3’23” (-2 places)
34 Chloe Fraser +21’43” (+37)
37 Sharon Laws +24’27” (+5)
41 Jessie Walker +28’02” (-8)
47 Alice Cobb +35’53” (+3)
52 Laura Massey +43’17” (-11)
57 Tamiko Butler +48’56” (+20)
66 Bethany Hayward +1h00’20” (+20)
67 Amy Gornall +1h01’50” (+12)
71 Hannah Payton +1h07’32” (-7)
79 Becky Womersley +1h15’30” (-4)
80 Bex Rimmington +1h18’20” (no change)
87 Jennifer George +1h40’44” (-11)
Points
28 Lucy Coldwell
Teams
14 Racing Chance Foundation
20 Corley Cycles-Drops
Juniors
10 Chloe Fraser
13 Jessie Walker
16 Alice Cobb
27 Bethany Hayward
28 Amy Gornall
30 Hannah Payton
35 Becky Womersley