She told us in April that she wasn’t planning to shine at the Women’s Tour, instead putting her eggs in the Olympic basket – but today Lizzie Armitstead couldn’t help but take the limelight.
Lizzie Armitestead stormed through the line at Stage Three of the Women’s Tour, sailing into Chesterfield after the hilliest 110km that the race had to offer.
We had TWC’s writer Jessica Strange in the Boels Dolmans team car today, too (good planning, hey?) – so we’ll have a report of the experience for you up soon.
The race was always going to be hard, and less than ten miles from the start town of Ashbourne the peloton was strung out as leaders tried to shake the bunch up.
With time bonus’ available on the line at intermediate sprints, the first in Buxton was hotly contested. The honours were taken by GC leader at the start of the day, Marianne Vos (Rabo Liv) followed by Leah Kirchmann (Liv Plantur) and stage one winner Christine Majerus (Boels Dolmans).
An attack lead by Team GB’s Emma Pooley went soon after, but was caught, and later a group of 11 made a move. The break included Hannah Barnes (Canyon//SRAM), Jolien D’Hoore (Wiggle High5), Chantal Blaak (Boels Dolman), Lucinda Brand (Rabo Liv), Clara Koppenburg (Cervelo Bigla), Amada Spratt (Orica AIS), Roxanne Knetemann (Rabo Liv), Rozanne Slik (Liv Plantur), Rossella Ratto (Cyclance) plus QOM jersey holder Katherine Hall (United Healthcare).
The riders reached the first QOM – a 4.5km ascent from Winster, with a lead approaching 90 seconds. It was Hall who claimed that one, followed by Ratto and Spratt.
Only 6km later was the second CRC sprint in Darley Dale, yet more incentive for the break to keep the pace high; Knetemann crossed first, followed by D’Hoore and Slik .
With a gap of almost 2 minutes, the break began to approach the second QOM climb – a 1km ascent from Matlock. Clearly intent on keeping the orange and white Strava jersey, that one went to Hall again, followed by Spratt and Koppenburg.
The break didn’t include any of the GC riders, and there was plenty of reason for those behind to work to catch them. Whilst the break had a lead of still almost two minutes, Lizzie Armitstead (Boels Dolmans), Elisa Longo Borghini (Wiggle High5’s expert climber) and Cervelo Bigla’s Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio attacked the splintering peloton to chase after them. At the same time, the break became more active, Brand attacking with Blaak on her wheel and Barnes jumping on.
The three strong and experienced riders eventually caught the break, numbers in the fast moving bunch increasing to 14. However, with 20km to go the gap was down to 1 minute 20, with Rabo Liv driving hard from behind to catch them and Brand dropping back from the break – seemingly to assist her GC leading team mate.
With 15km to go, the break wasn’t going to stay together – Armitstead attacked, with Longo Borghini, Spratt, and Moolman-Pasio. In the final kilometres, the leaders built up a gap of 1 minute 12, and the remainder of the breakaway was consumed by the peloton as they chased to catch the four ahead.
The four continued to work together until the final metres, where Armitstead made her move, crossing clear of the others who were a couple of bike lengths back.
Making up the podium behind the World Champion were Moolman-Pasio and Longo Borghini in third. The result means that Armitstead takes over from Vos in the GC lead, with followed by Moolman-Pasio at 5 seconds, Longo Borghini at 7 seconds, Spratt at 14 and Vos at 27 seconds. Katherine Hall continues to hold the QOM jersey, and Vos keeps hold of the CRC Points Jersey and Floortje Mackaij is still the Best Young Rider.
We’ve got more pictures from Velofocus (and their fancy motorbike cameras) coming soon…. keep up with all Women’s Tour action here.