Brits at the Women’s Tour – Stage 4

WTLogoThe penultimate stage of the 2015 Women’s Tour was the second shortest of the race at “just” 103.8km but the riders won’t have started today thinking they were going to have an easy time of it – the numerous climbs, though never long, were frequent and in some cases surprisingly steep, making it a challenging parcours. Then the weather got involved, made the roads slippery by dumping plenty of water all over them and turned a tough stage into a bit of an ordeal.

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The race got off to a fast start and the average speed reminded high even when conditions turned wet, which resulted in a few crashes as riders lost traction on sharp bends along the Hertfordshire lanes and also prevented the kind of breaks we’ve seen in the last couple of stages. It wasn’t until 30km from Stevenage that Elisa Longo Borghini of British team Wiggle-Honda and Sabrina Stultiens of Liv-Plantur became the first riders to successfully get off the front. Despite it being late in the day the peloton was slow to react, perhaps thinking that the last climbs and inclement conditions would do the hard work for them and certainly sensing that the break was a ploy by Longo Borghini’s team to pile pressure on their rivals. However, when the gap extended to 50″ the pack had no choice to react and did so in the nick of time, finally catching the leaders almost at the instant they passed under the flamme rouge and then overtaking them with 300m to go.

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© Dave White

The stage was thus set for another bunch sprint, and with only seconds between the General Classification leaders there was everything to play for, and while Lisa Brennauer (Velocio-SRAM) won back the overall lead when she beat Emma Johansson (Orica-AIS), Lotta Lepisto (Bigla) and, crucially, yesterday’s stage winner and GC leader Christine Majerus (Boels-Dolmans) to win the yellow jersey, her advantage is at 9″ far too slight to guarantee victory, especially considering the parcours tomorrow – while Stage 5 is the shortest of this year’s race, it features eight harsh Chilterns climbs and is very likely to have a serious impact on the overall placings.

It was another good day for the British riders with 10 of the remaining fifteen making GC gains which in some cases – Laura Trott, Molly Weaver, Dani King, Helen Wyman and especially Ciara Horne, who climbed 28 places – were impressive albeit unlikely to make a significant difference when time gaps are taken into account. Of the five that lost places, Katie Curtis’ fall of 32 places was greatest, but Lucy Garner’s from 6th overall to 34th was by far the most significant and must have hurt.

Cycling Shorts talks with Hannah Barnes

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Hannah Barnes meets a future winner (© Dave White)

At first glance, UHC’s Hannah Barnes was the British hero of the day – the 22-year-old from Towcester finished fifth in the bunch sprint with a time equal to that of Majerus and improved her overall place from 7th to 5th, thus becoming the leading Brit in the race and the top rider of any nationality in the Youth competition, where she has a 6″ advantage to her American team mate Alexis Ryan. Neutral Service, though, is going to claim Mauritian rider Kimberley le Court as a Brit, since she rides for British team Matrix Pro Cycling, and declare her the star of the stage – Kimberley spent much of the stage being chased by the broom wagon which, although somewhat less sinister in its modern incarnation as a white Transit than the traditional bat-faced Citroen H is nevertheless a very intimidating presence to see behind you. Despite this, Kimberley fought on through the rain and eventually finished in 80th place – with five riders, including the superstrong Sarah Storey and Katie Archibald (both Pearl Izumi-Sports Tours International) behind her. Chapeau Kimberley!

Stage 1Stage 2Stage 3Stage 4Stage 5
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Kimberley Le Court earned her stripes today – the blue, green and white stripes of the Matrix team – in an heroic battle with the broom wagon (© Dave White)

Tomorrow is the final stage. Can’t make it? Never mind – show your support at any of the eight other races going on in the UK!

 

British Riders Stage 4

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Stage winner and GC leader Lisa Brennauer (© Dave White)

5 Hannah Barnes (UHC) 2h36’35”
16 Laura Trott (Matrix Pro Cycling) ST
28 Molly Weaver (Liv-Plantur) +7″
35 Ciara Horne (Pearl Izumi-Sports Tours International) +16″
38 Dani King (Wiggle-Honda) +18″
43 Sharon Laws (Bigla) +24″
49 Lucy Garner (Liv-Plantur) ST
69 Helen Wyman (Matrix Pro Cycling) +3’14”
70 Katie Curtis (Pearl Izumi-Sports Tours International) +3’36”
75 Elinor Barker (Matrix Pro Cycling) +6’33”
81 Lucy Martin (Matrix Pro Cycling) +14’16
82 Gabriella Shaw (Pearl Izumi-Sports Tours International) ST
83 Sarah Storey (Pearl Izumi-Sports Tours International) ST
84 Katie Archibald (Pearl Izumi-Sports Tours International) ST

Stage 4 Brits in the GC

5 Hannah Barnes (UHC) +22″ (+2 places)
17 Laura Trott (Matrix Pro Cycling) +35″ (+13 places)
32 Molly Weaver (Liv-Plantur) +42″ (+15 places)
34 Lucy Garner (Liv-Plantur) +45″ (-28 places)
39 Ciara Horne (Pearl Izumi-Sports Tours International) +51″ (+27 places)
43 Dani King (Wiggle-Honda) +53″ (+11 places)
50 Sharon Laws (Bigla) +59″ (+7 places)
69 Katie Curtis (Pearl Izumi-Sports Tours International) +4’11” (-32 places)
73 Helen Wyman (Matrix Pro Cycling) +5’51” (+8 places)
75 Elinor Barker (Matrix Pro Cycling) +7’31” (-1 place)
79 Gabriella Shaw (Pearl Izumi-Sports Tours International) +14’51” (-17 places)
80 Lucy Martin (Matrix Pro Cycling) +15’13” (-7 places)
82 Sarah Storey (Pearl Izumi-Sports Tours International) +17’15” (+1 place)
83 Katie Archibald (Pearl Izumi-Sports Tours International) +18’16” (+1 place)
85 Kimberley Le Court (Matrix Pro Cycling) +49’04” (+ 1 place)

Overall Other Categories

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Leading Youth rider and best Brit in the GC and Points Hannah Barnes (© Dave White)

Points
5 Hannah Barnes (UHC) 16pts (+4 places)
10 Lucy Garner (Liv-Plantur) 10pts (-2 places)
23 Elinor Barker (Matrix Pro Cycling) 3pts (-4 places)

Queen of the Mountains
3 Sharon Laws (Bigla) 15pts (no change)
4 Laura Trott (Matrix Pro Cycling) 10pts (no change)
17 Elinor Barker (Matrix Pro Cycling) 3pts (-3 places)
20 Katie Archibald (Pearl Izumi-Sports Tours International) 2pts (-4 places)

Youth
1 Hannah Barnes (UHC) (+1 place)
6 Laura Trott (Matrix Pro Cycling) (+3 places)
8 Molly Weaver (Liv-Plantur) (+4 places)
9 Lucy Garner (Liv-Plantur) (-8 places)
15 Elinor Barker (Matrix Pro Cycling) (+2 places)
19 Gabriella Shaw (Pearl Izumi-Sports Tours International) (-5 places)
21 Katie Archibald (Pearl Izumi-Sports Tours International) (+1 place)

Stage 4 Top Ten and Overall GC

Stage 4 Top Ten
1 Lisa Brennauer (Velocio-SRAM) 2h36’35”
2 Emma Johansson (Orica-AIS) ST
3 Lotta Lepisto (Bigla) ST
4 Christine Majerus (Boels-Dolmans) ST
5 Hannah Barnes (UHC) ST
6 Amalie Dideriksen (Boels-Dolmans) ST
7 Alexis Ryan (UHC) ST
8 Sara Mustonen-Lichan (Liv-Plantur) ST
9 Elisa Longo Borghini (Wiggle-Honda) ST
10 Sabrina Stultiens (Liv-Plantur) ST
Full result

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Was it wet? Ever so slightly! (© Nikki & Gethin Pearson)

Stage 4 Top Ten GC
1 Lisa Brennauer (Velocio-SRAM) 12h22’35”
2 Christine Majerus (Boels-Dolmans) +9″
3 Jolien D’hoore (Wiggle-Honda) +10″
4 Emma Johansson (Orica-AIS) +11″
5 Hannah Barnes (UHC) +22″
6 Alexis Ryan (UHC) +28″
7 Pascale Jeuland (Poitou Charentes-Futuroscope.86) ST
8 Maria Giulia Confalonieri (Ale-Cipollini) ST
9 Susanna Zorzi (Lotto-Soudal) ST
10 Simona Frapporti (Ale-Cipollini) ST
Full Result

Stage 4 Gallery

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British National Champion Laura Trott (© Dave White)

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Iris Slappendel (© Dave White)

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Things Helen Wyman is often regularly seen doing – 1: Being National Cyclocross Champion; 2: inspiring future generations. (© Dave White)

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Time’s up for the break! (© Dave White)

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Elinor Barker (© Nikki & Gethin Pearson)

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Kimberley Le Court, showing the determination that saw her through (© Nikki & Gethin Pearson)