Brits at the Women’s Tour – Stage 5 and Overall

WTLogoThere were some who, when they heard that the Women’s Tour was going to clash with the first ever European Games this year, said that it would be a far less exciting race than the first edition as a result. They were mistaken – just like last year, it’s been nail-biting stuff all the way from the Grand Depart through to the finish of the final stage which began today in Marlow with the overall results still very far from decided.

At 102.6km it was the shortest stage of the race, but with a parcours that was largely confined within the north-eastern end of the stunning Chilterns National Park, well-known to cyclists in the South-East of England as the location of many a difficult hill and enormously popular with both road cyclists and mountain bikers as a result, nobody was under any illusion that SweetSpot were giving the riders an easy day to round off the race. Having set off from Marlow, the route snaked back and forth taking in as many of those hills as possible before entering Hertfordshire and terminating at Hemel Hempstead.

Couldn’t get to the Tour? Plenty more #WomensCycling next week!

Unfortunately, the day began with bad news for British fans: Pearl Izumi-Sports Tours International, would be starting the final stage without another rider due to Katie Curtis falling ill. With Jo Rowsell having to withdraw before Stage 3, this left the UK domestic squad missing one third of the riders with which it began the race.

“We can confirm that Katie Curtis has been withdrawn from the final stage of the Women’s Tour due to a severe and painful flare up of her Crohn’s disease. Despite every effort from the team and the race medical staff to look after her both during and after stage 4 it was necessary to admit her to hospital where she will undergo some tests to establish if her ongoing treatment needs to change. Crohn’s disease is a debilitating condition for which a cure has not yet been found. Katie has defied medical staff by returning to international competition since her diagnosis and continues to improve as a rider. Her ability to manage the condition and its symptoms is amazing and everyone wishes her a speedy recovery.” – Pearl Izumi-Sports Tours International press release
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Elisa Longo Borghini (© Nikki & Gethin Pearson)

An early breakaway consisting of Anouska Koster (Rabo-Liv), Uenia Fernandes Da Souza (Alé-Cipollini), Gracie Elvin (Orica-AIS) and Emilie Aubry (Bigla) used the twisting lanes to their advantage, carrying their speed through the bends where the peloton had to take things more slowly and by doing so achieved a lead that stretched to a minute: just enough to cause a stir as Koster and Fernandes Da Souza started the stage trailing GC leader Lisa Brennauer by 48″ and 59″ respectively – unlikely to make much of a difference, but once in a while a break does stay away and so it was reduced to 20″ by the start of the first Queen of the Mountains climb and then to zero at the top. A bigger group got away later but was almost immediately set upon and brought back, then Claudia Lichtenberg of Liv-Plantur launched an attack that became the stand-out performance of the day: though she was out on her own, she got a full minute off the front. With her overall disadvantage of 46″ and well-respected skills, this really did have the potential to impact on the eventual standings; hence the peloton cranked up the average speed and began to pick off the hopefuls who had gone off to try to join her.

Thank you to the Aviva Women’s Tour – Helen Wyman

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Emma Johansson attacks (© Nikki & Gethin Pearson)

Emma Johansson (Orica-AIS) certainly can’t be classified as a hopeful – the Swedish National Champion was for a time rated the top rider in the world and has given Marianne Vos a run for her money on many occasions, as well as beating her on several. In a move that could be used as a textbook example of the sheer beauty of cycling, she attacked hard on the second QOM and cruised away from the pack. Her disadvantage overall was a far more frightening 11″, so the pack cranked things up several more notches and rapidly caught Elisa Longo Borghini (Wiggle-Honda) and Megan Guarnier (Boels-Dolmans) who had attempted to bridge to the leader. Wiggle had another round in the chamber in the form of Audrey Cordon, however – the French 25-year-old succeeded where team mate Longo Borghini failed and proved why she’s one of the most impressive super-domestiques in the contemporary peloton by joining Johansson.

The gap was slowly but surely chipped away, but as the two leaders passed the “Welcome to Hemel Hempstead” sign they still had 15″ and it looked just possible that the break might stick – a rare occurrence in modern cycling but one that is always a delight to watch when it happens. It didn’t happen, but what happened instead was almost as good: a second stage win by a British rider! Hannah Barnes (UHC) was well-positioned as the peloton caught and engulfed the leaders, but it looked like she’d missed her opportunity when she became boxed in my riders from opposing teams until, showing the split-second calculation that marks out a genius sprinter from the merely talented, she spotted a tiny gap and blasted through it to victory.

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Hannah Barnes celebrates with Hannah Walker (© Nikki & Gethin Pearson)

With so many other riders recording the same time, Barnes’ performance was not enough to improve her General Classification placing from fifth but it was a near-perfect ending for a British rider at a British race – one in which British riders have held their own against the best in the world, demonstrating once again that the sport of women’s cycling has a glorious future in this country. She also wins the Youth category with an advantage of 23″ over Matrix Pro Cycling’s Laura Trott, the British National Road Race Champion and double Olympic gold winner.

Meanwhile, fourth place secured the overall victory for the World Time Trial Champion Lisa Brennauer of Velocio-SRAM. who won back the overall lead from Christine Majerus (Boels-Dolmans) yesterday. Congratulations, Lisa – come back next year!

Stage 1Stage 2Stage 3Stage 4Stage 5
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Hannah Barnes, top Brit in the GC and the winner in the Youth category (© Nikki & Gethin Pearson)

 

 

British Riders Stage 5
1 Hannah Barnes (UHC) 2h40’51”
8 Katie Archibald (Pearl Izumi-Sports Tours International) ST
25 Laura Trott (Matrix Pro Cycling) ST
41 Sharon Laws (Bigla) +5″
49 Lucy Garner (Liv-Plantur) ST
50 Molly Weaver (Liv-Plantur) ST
56 Dani King (Wiggle-Honda) +14″
60 Ciara Horne (Pearl Izumi-Sports Tours International) ST
64 Sarah Storey (Pearl Izumi-Sports Tours International) ST
68 Elinor Barker (Matrix Pro Cycling) +26″
69 Helen Wyman (Matrix Pro Cycling) +26″
78 Gabriella Shaw (Pearl Izumi-Sports Tours International) +13’18”
79 Lucy Martin (Matrix Pro Cycling) ST

Brits in the Final GC
5 Hannah Barnes (UHC) +14″ (no change)
17 Laura Trott (Matrix Pro Cycling) +37″ (no change)
30 Molly Weaver (Liv-Plantur) +49″ (-2 places)
33 Lucy Garner (Liv-Plantur) +52″ (+1 place)
44 Sharon Laws (Bigla) +1’06” (+6 places)
47 Ciara Horne (Pearl Izumi-Sports Tours International) +1’07” (-8 places)
49 Dani King (Wiggle-Honda) +1’09″7 (-6 places)
66 Helen Wyman (Matrix Pro Cycling) +6’19” (+7 places)
69 Elinor Barker (Matrix Pro Cycling) +7’59” (+6 places)
76 Sarah Storey (Pearl Izumi-Sports Tours International) +17’31” (+6 places)
77 Katie Archibald (Pearl Izumi-Sports Tours International) +18’18” (+6 places)
80 Gabriella Shaw (Pearl Izumi-Sports Tours International) +28’11” (-1 place)
81 Lucy Martin (Matrix Pro Cycling) +28’33” (-1 place)
83 Kimberley Le Court (Matrix Pro Cycling) +1h2’24 – special honourary mention for the Mauritian rider who put in an heroic performance on Stage 4!

Final Other Categories

Points
5 Hannah Barnes (UHC) 31pts (no change)
10 Lucy Garner (Liv-Plantur) 10pts (no change)
24 Elinor Barker (Matrix Pro Cycling) 3pts (-1 place)
25 Katie Archibald (Pearl Izumi-Sports Tours International) 3pts (new entry)

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Sharon Laws finished third in the overall Queen of the Mountains (© Nikki & Gethin Pearson)

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

Youth
1 Hannah Barnes (UHC) 15h03’38” (no change)
6 Laura Trott (Matrix Pro Cycling) +23″ (no change)
8 Molly Weaver (Liv-Plantur) +35″ (no change)
10 Lucy Garner (Liv-Plantur) +38″ (-1 place)
15 Elinor Barker (Matrix Pro Cycling) +7’45” (no change)
18 Katie Archibald (Pearl Izumi-Sports Tours International) +18’04” (+3 places)
21 Gabriella Shaw (Pearl Izumi-Sports Tours International) +27’57 (-2 places)

Teams
3 Wiggle-Honda +14″
15 Matrix Pro Cycling +11’46”
16 Pearl Izumi-Sports Tours International +18’55”

Stage 5 Top Ten
1 Hannah Barnes (UHC) 2h40’51”
2 Jolien D’hoore (Wiggle-Honda) ST
4 Lisa Brennauer (Veocio-SRAM) ST
5 Christine Majerus (Boels-Dolmans) ST
6 Sara Mustonen-Lichan (Liv-Plantur) ST
7 Emma Johansson (Orica-AIS) ST
8 Katie Archibald (Pearl Izumi-Sports Tours International) ST
9 Maria Giulia Confalonieri (Ale-Cipollini) ST
10 Roxane Knetemann (Rabo-Liv) ST
Full result

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Final GC podium (© Nikki & Gethin Pearson)

Final GC Top Ten
1 Lisa Brennauer (Velocio-SRAM) 15h03’24”
2 Jolien D’hoore (Wiggle-Honda) +6″
3 Christine Majerus (Boels-Dolmans) +7″
4 Emma Johansson (Orica-AIS) +13″
5 Hannah Barnes (UHC) +14″
6 Simona Frapporti (Ale-Cipollini) +26″
7 Leah Kirchmann (Optum pb Kelly Benefit Strategies) +29″
8 Alexis Ryan (UHC) +30″
9 Pascale Jeuland (Poitou Charentes-Futuroscope.86) ST
10 Maria Giulia Confalonieri (Ale-Cipollini) ST
Full result

 

Stage 5 Gallery

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Rivals on the bike, friends off it! (© Nikki & Gethin Pearson) – See more of Nikki and Gethin’s photos here

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Dani King, who feared her career was over following a crash last November, finished 49th (© Nikki & Gethin Pearson)

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British team Wiggle-Honda’s Italian ex-World Champion Giorgia Bronzini was many people’s favourite at the start of the race, but ended 37th (© Nikki & Gethin Pearson)

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Matrix Pro Cycling’s Lucy Martin tackles on of the numerous hills along the Stage 5 parcours (© Nikki & Gethin Pearson)

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(© Nikki & Gethin Pearson)

 

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Katie Archibald put in her best performance of the race, coming 8th and improving her GC position by six places (© Nikki & Gethin Pearson)

 

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Lucy Martin (© Nikki & Gethin Pearson)

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