The Women's Tour: Stage 3 Race Report - Felixstowe to Clacton-on-Sea

Strong winds, sunshine and crashes as the Friends Life Women's Tour heads to the East Coast of Britain for Stage 3.

The sun made a welcome return for day 3 of the Friends Life Women’s Tour, but with it came the wind. Not totally unexpected for a route that started and ended by the sea.

[Don't forget to get the lowdown on the Friends Life Women's Tour with our Essential Guide to the Tour article.]

Victorious Vos

Stage 3 – Felixstowe to Clacton-on-Sea

If you wanted to know how fast a peloton consisting of the world top professional cyclists could go, today was the day to find out. A mostly flat section with many corners and bends saw the peloton flying through the countryside on a stage that was shorter than stage 2. Pre-race, the general view was that this was a stage well suited for the Dutch riders, post race Vos certainly agreed.

“It felt Dutch, but we don’t have that many hedges to take away the wind. So the wind was Dutch, the winding narrow roads were Dutch, but I think I am going to take some hedges home! But yes it was Dutch style racing; very fast, very aggressive. I think it was interesting but very difficult to break away as the teams were constantly reacting on each other. 10 seconds was the max you could get today.”

Marianne Vos, Rabo Liv Women’s Cycling Team

Despite all out war predicted, and a very active peloton, none of the breakaways managed to gain significant ground and the finish was a dramatic bunch sprint with a tailwind.

The start point in Felixstowe on the seafront was the epitome of a British seaside scene, albeit with a significantly larger than usual number of pro-cyclists.  This made for some surreal scenes, as when Team GB broke out the turbo trainer in one of the beachfront shelters, or when the Matrix Fitness Vulpine team posed for photos in front of the multi-coloured beach huts.

At 11.00am sharp the race began, and wound its way through urban roads for the first 7.7km neutral section. This isn’t part of the timed stage, so the teams rode easy as they moved off from the start gate. That said, a small incident did see a number of riders call for assistance, including Romy Kasper (Boels Dolmans), Uenia Fernandes Souza (Estado de Mexico Faren) and Katie Archibald (Team GB).

“It was a big whirlwind today. Lizze [Armitstead] went straight as soon as the flag was lowered!’

Sharon Laws, UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling

The wind began to make its presence felt immediately; as the route changed direction frequently, the peloton encountered tail winds, head winds, and cross winds over the course of the stage.

The cross winds frequently saw the peloton strung out and hugging the gutters. The first crash came early around Brightwell, and saw Dalia Muccioli (Astana Bepink), Laura Trott (Wiggle Honda), Linda Indergand (Switzerland) and Lauren Tamayo (United Healthcare) go down. This also split the peloton into two main groups.

Tamayo was forced to withdraw from the race as a result of the crash, with Indergand, Muccioli and Trott re-joining the peloton. Trott called for medical assistance due to an arm injury.

 

The first sprint section outside Kesgrave School was well populated with supporters, including most of Kesgrave School itself, it appeared. Lizzie Armitstead took the win through the Yodel Direct Sprint section, followed closely by Marianne Vos and Emma Johansson.

Stage 3 brought the peloton alongside water in various forms several times, which made for some great photo opportunities. In Ipswich, the route took a narrow road alongside the marina. With street furniture, bollards, a flooded section and old tram rails, the chances of an incident occurring were high but happily the peloton made it through unscathed.

A small group detached from the rear with a 17 second gap developing between them.

The Strava Queen of the Mountain sections came one after the other in quick succession. Sharon Laws took the win for the first, with Ellen Van Dijk and Jolanda Neff hot on her heels.

A slight reversal saw Neff taking the second QOM, with Laws in second place. Some confusion arose around the results of the second stage, and the other positions are yet to be announced. This means that Laws will retain the polkadot Strava Queen of the Mountain Jersey for the next stage of the race.

With the points sections mostly in the first half of the race, the second half saw repeated action with many attacks, most of which were swiftly caught by the peloton.

Eight riders managed to get clear as the riders approached the 41.6km mark with two more successfully jumping the gap. The break away group managed to extend their lead to five seconds, but the peloton were pushed hard and recaptured them as they entered the feed zone.

Ratto, in the Yellow Leaders Jersey, repeatedly took the front of the peloton and drove the pace hard. Several more short-lived breakaways were attempted but none held until Trixi Worrack (Specialized Lululemon), Melon Powlowska (Boels Dolmans), Elena Cecchini (Estado de Mexico Faren), Charlotte Becker (UnitedHealthcare) and Gracie Elvin (Orica AIS) successfully got ahead.

They were joined by Lucinda Brand (Rabo Liv) and Elisa Longo Borghini (Hitec Products) with German champion Worrack leading the group to gain a five second advantage as the race approached the second sprint section.

The holders of the classification jerseys, all of whom were in the main peloton, were having none of it and pursued hard, with Ratto leading, recapturing the breakaway just before the final sprint section. Vos, Armitstead and Johansson made a break for it but were swiftly caught, but not before gaining some bonuses in the form of a Sprint win for Vos, with Armitstead and Johansson 2nd and 3rd behind her.

Repeated attacks by Vos, Armitstead, Johansson, Van Vleuten, Worrack and Villumsen made it impossible to gauge who was going to cross the line first.

Vos’s Sprint to Glory: Stage 3 The Women’s Tour a Road Cycling video by irvineh

A very close and very fast bunch sprint, driven by a tail wind, saw Vos cross the line first. She looked ecstatic at the result, and will be donning the yellow jersey for the penultimate stage tomorrow.

“I knew I had a chance if it went to a bunch sprint. It feels good to be in yellow!”

Marianne Vos, Rabo Liv Women’s Cycling Team

Johansson of Orica AIS placed second and Bronzini of Wiggle Honda in third. Armitstead placed fourth, and Trixi Worrack of Specialized Lululemon takes the combativity award for her hard and persistent attacks.

Laws, who will don the Strava Queen of the Mountain Jersey for a third day tomorrow, plans to keep it.

“I am quite fond of this jersey now, so I’d like to keep it! I wasn’t expecting to be competing for a jersey.”

Sharon Laws, UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling

Stage 4, the penultimate stage of the inaugural Friends Life Women’s Tour, takes the action to Cheshunt. Expect some drama!

“With this wind and tomorrow with probably the rain we can expect a hard race again, and the other teams will try and get me out of the yellow jersey.”

Marianne Vos, Rabo Liv Women’s Cycling Team

Jerseys

Yellow Leaders Jersey: Marianne Vos, Rabo Liv (NED)
Yodel Direct Points Jersey: Marianne Vos, Rabo Liv (NED)
Strava Queen of the Mountain Jersey: Sharon Laws, UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling (GBR)
Best Young Rider Jersey: Rosella Ratto, Estado de Mexico Faren (ITA)
Leukaemia & Lymphoma Research Best British Rider Jersey: Lizzie Armitstead, Boels Dolmans (GBR)

Results

Sprint 1 winner: Lizzie Armitstead, Boels Dolmans Cycling Team (GBR)
Sprint 2 winner: Marianne Vos, Rabo Liv Women’s Cycling Team (NED)
QOM 1 winner: Sharon Laws, UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling (GBR)
QOM 2 winner: Jolanda Neff, Switzerland (SUI)

Stage 3 results:

WT stage 3 stage results

Overall standing: General Classification after Stage 3:

WT Stage 3 overall standings

Don’t forget you can check the full results on The Friends Life Women’s Tour results page.

 

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In Pictures: Stage 3 of the Friends Life Women's Tour