Ducks would have been very at home on the course for the second stage of the Aviva Women’s Tour, but the riders made it an exciting race that was eventually won via bunch sprint by Amy Pieters (Wiggle High5).
Team mate Giorgia Bronzini told us this morning she was hoping Pieters or Dani King would nab a stage win – and the Dutch cyclist managed to fulfill that wish.
(Scroll down for a gallery of the day)
The result, alongside bonus points from Chain Reaction Cycles Sprints, put Marianne Vos (Rabo Liv) into the GC lead – a stunning sight on the podium after her 2014 win.
The 147km route from Atherstone to Stratford-Upon-Avon marked the first of four days of climbing for the peloton and there were whisperings of certain breakaways and attacks on the climbs.
Breaks there certainly were. Before the first Chain Reaction Sprint, 36.7km in, Emilia Fahlin of Ale Cipollini broke clear, and was later joined by Esra Tromp of Parkhotel. However, the pair were caught before the sprint which went to Lotta Lepisto (Cervelo Bigla) with yesterday’s winner Christine Majerus (Boels-Dolmans) second.
The attacks from Fahlin weren’t over though, over 60km in she made another move, taking with her Gutierrez Ruiz of Cylance Cycling and later United Healthcare rider Laurel Rathbun. Not content in the group, Fahlin went solo, building up a lead of close to 30 seconds before the bunch caught her in the lead up to the first Strava QOM – in Burton Dassett.
The 1.9km climb was narrow and twisty – and lined with crowds to cheer in the riders – who were by now pretty soggy. Streams ran down the road as the riders began their ascent, and behind the convoy struggled on the incline.
Katherine Hall (United Healthcare) was first up the climb, with Canyon//SRAM’s Alena Amialiuksik and Armitstead (Boels Dolmans) third.
The climb was followed by another steep ramp – Edge Hill, and soon after that teams began setting up sprint trains for the second CRC Sprint at Middle Tysoe. The two climbs and surge in pace put some riders in trouble, and a triumphant Marianne Vos (Rabo Liv) was first over the line, with Majerus second and Leah Kirchmann (Liv Plantur) third.
With over 100 km down, another pair attempted a break – young rider Amalie Dideriksen of Boels Dolmans and Malgorzata Jasinska from Ale Cipollini.
The breakaway couple – 20 year old Danish National Road Race Champion Dideriksen and 32 year old Polish Road Race champ Jasinska managed to build a lead of 50 seconds, but they were eventually caught – though not before the peloton had split into three sizeable groups. The first group contained around 30 riders, the next 12, and behind them the bunch.
The race was quickly splitting, and groups of riders were scattered in the pouring rain on this technical and difficult course.
In the final 10km of the stage, the front group of 25 were being hunted down by 12 chasers. With the finishing line just 5km away, the front group bought out the attacks with a big effort from British rider, Nikki Harris (Boels Dolmans) in the final 2km.
With the final few hundred metres closing in, the head racers gave it their all and powered through the finish line a hair breadth apart:
1) Amy Pieters (Wiggle High5)
2) Lisa Brennauer (Canyon//SRAM)
3) Marianne Vos (Raboliv)
4) Gracie Elvin (Orica-AIS)
5) Christine Majerus (Boels Dolman)
After Stage 2, and having collected bonus points in the sprint rounds, Marianne Vos (Rabo Liv) picks up the yellow jersey and points jersey. Lizzie Armistead (Boels Dolman) retains the Adnams best British rider jersey and Katherine Hall (United Healthcare) has the QOM jersey. Finally, Floortje Mackaij remains the Best Young Rider and Ale’s Emilia Fahlin got the Combativity Prize.
Check out our pics from the stage…