Santos Women's Tour Town Under through the Eyes of Canyon//SRAM - Total Women's Cycling

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Santos Women’s Tour Town Under through the Eyes of Canyon//SRAM

The 2017 racing season kicks off in Australia at the Tour Down Under

After a long old off-season, the 2017 pro women’s road season has begun with the Santos Tour Down Under. 

The four day stage race based in Adelaide kicked off on Saturday, with the final stage set for Tuesday. Despite being so early in the season, it’s a hugely well attended event with 17 teams racing in total, 11 of which are international and include the likes of Wiggle High5, Canon//SRAM and Orica-Scott plus Cyclance Pro Cycling and Ale Cipollini Galassia.

Stage one was a brutal war of attrition – covering 106km and including the Pairs Creek Road Climb, a 700 metre ramp at over 10 per cent just before the 4km downhill run to the finish. In the end, the stage win went to Amanda Spratt (Orica-Scott), who escaped when the peloton split in the last 15km with Janneke Ensing (Ale Cipollini Galassia) who finished 20 seconds back and Katherine Hall (United HealthCare) who managed third.

Alexis Ryan wins the bunch sprint. Image: Kirsty Baxter

The stage saw Alexis Ryan of Canyon//SRAM scoop up the Young Rider classification, having taken fourth place – she said afterwards: “[when the race really lit up] Tiff and I were a little far back, like 25th position and there were already three echelons. I saw Tiff fly up the side to get to the first one and I was hurting so badly, I wanted to not go. But I knew if I didn’t put the effort in then I wouldn’t make it and I didn’t want to rely on waiting for that front echelon to come back. So I went as hard as I could to get there. We were going with the attacks. I had just gone with a move that was brought back, then Tiff went with the next Orica rider attack and as soon as it was back, the move with Spratt went.”

Ryan finished first of the small group that came in behind the leading three – taking fourth overall. Describing the sprint for the finish she said: “I was around the back of the bunch in the downhill and I moved up to fifth coming into the sprint. I started around 400m to go, which could have been early but I had seen the road before, I knew it would be a fast sprint and I was feeling strong.”

Top 10:

1 Amanda SPRATT (ORS)
2 Janneke ENSING (ALE)
3 Katharine HALL (UHC)
4 Alexis RYAN (LPR)
5 Danielle KING (CPC)
6 Katrin GARFOOT (ORS)
7 Alice BARNES (DRP)
8 Peta MULLENS (HBS)
9 Ruth WINDER (UHC)
10 Lauren KITCHEN (SNS)

Stage two was a race of a very different style – moving from the picturesque countryside roads to the city centre for a 32.2km crit. This was a race for the sprinters, and it’s not a huge surprise to hear that the first place was scooped up by Kirsten Wild (Cylance Pro Cycling).

Wild’s Cylance team mate, Rachel Barbieri took second and Chloe Hosking (Ale Cippolini Galassia) was third.

The women completed 14 laps of the circuit, with their race taking place just before the first round of the men’s stage race.

Top 10:

1 Kirsten WILD (CPC)
2 Rachele BARBIERI (CPC)
3 Chloe HOSKING (ALE)
4 Alice BARNES (DRP)
5 Annette EDMONDSON (WHT)
6 Barbara GUARISCHI (LPR)
7 Anna TREVISI (ALE)
8 Gretchen STUMHOFER (T20)
9 Chloe DYGERT (T20)
10 Ruth WINDER (UHC)

Day three’s race took the riders back out to the countryside, for a 90km race through Barossa (full of vineyards, though the riders perhaps didn’t get time to stop for a tipple). The QOM climb – the Whispering Wall – was ascended twice, with a downhill run to the finish again.

Temperatures were close to 40 degrees celsius, making for a testing day on the bike. Erin Kinnealy (Holden Women’s Cycling) made an attempt to breakaway early on, building up a load of 90 seconds. However, by the time the peloton reached the QOM 53km in she had been hunted down.

Podium after stage three. Image: Kirsty Baxter

Orica-Scott kept the pace high in the final 12km, leaving no conclusion other than a bunch sprint that was won by Chloe Hosking (Ale) with Kirsten Wild (Cylance) in second and Alexis Ryan (Canyon//SRAM) third.

After the race Alexis Ryan said: “It was so hard. That QOM was very painful, it made the legs sting. The QOM was hard both times and Tiff and I were there in the front group. At one point I saw Kirsten Wild come flying by on the descent and I so I knew with her and Chloe Hosking both there, they’re both powerful riders, so I knew it would be hard to beat them in a sprint. It was a headwind so I didn’t want to go too early. I started the sprint third and finished in third. It’s a podium and I wish I could have won and got a better.”

Top 10: 

1 Chloe HOSKING (ALE)
2 Kirsten WILD (CPC)
3 Alexis RYAN (LPR)
4 Peta MULLENS (HBS)
5 Rebecca WIASAK (HFD)
6 Tiffany CROMWELL (LPR)
7 Chloe DYGERT (T20)
8 Susanna ZORZI (DRP)
9 Alice BARNES (DRP)
10 Julie LETH (WHT)

Stage four would decide the ultimate winner. It was a one hour hard and fast criterium over a 1.2km circuit, with an added two laps of Adelaide’s Victoria Park. As expected, temperatures were close to 40 degrees Celsius as the riders set out.

With Amanda Spratt (Orica-Scott) the GC leader, she was keen to stay in a safe position towards the front of the race throughout – accompanied by her team mates. The Orica-Scott train took control towards the end, with sprint trains dotted with other jerseys slotting in to prepare for a sprint finish.

In the end, it was Cylance Pro Cycling’s Kirsten Wild who claimed the stage victory, with home-girl Annette Edmondson (Wiggle High5) second and Chloe Hosking (Ale) third.

The final result left Spratt still in first place, with Chloe Hosking taking the sprinter’s jersey, Janneke Ensing the QOM, and Alexis Ryan of Canyon//SRAM reclaimed the Young Rider’s Jersey after attacking throughout to take intermediate points.

Ryan commented after the race: “I secured the jersey only because the girls put in the greatest efforts each time for me in the intermediate sprints. Coming in to the final sprint I went to go and nothing happened, there was nothing left. That was disappointing but for the rest I am proud of what we achieved.”

“I’m wearing the Young Rider jersey but it’s representative of what we did as a team. It was such a great feeling to have that lead out dialled the first three times. It established our dominance and all of the other teams knew that if they wanted to come around that lead out they would have to give it everything.”

Being the team’s supported rider was a big step up for Ryan – she added: “I’ve never really had that kind of support from a team. Everyone believing in, and giving all of their effort to me. There was a lot of pressure but a good pressure. It gave me confidence. I carried their confidence in to the sprint yesterday and again today.”

1 Kirsten WILD (CPC)
2 Annette EDMONDSON (WHT)
3 Chloe HOSKING (ALE)
4 Peta MULLENS (HBS)
5 Grace GARNER (WHT)
6 Chloe DYGERT (T20)
7 Gretchen STUMHOFER (T20)
8 Anna TREVISI (ALE)
9 Alexis RYAN (LPR)
10 Katrin GARFOOT (ORS)

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