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.
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.”
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)