Cover photo: Sportfoto.nl/SF Road 2015
Our team has been racing in Great Britain at the Aviva Women’s Tour, the third stage race part of the Women’s World Tour (WWT). The girls could report it being a well-organized and safe race with a super atmosphere. The organizers really achieved engaging the local community who came out to cheer and support the girls at start, finish and along the route. The stages were tougher than last year, close to maximum distance, pretty much up and down all the time and no flat sprint stages where riders could hide and rest in the bunch. Also with the asphalt in England being rough and gravel like it added to the challenge for the riders draining them from any excess energy they might have.
Stage one was the stage with the least height meters. The team wanted to go for a sprint with Kirsten so the girls covered all attacks and no break got to go without our girls in it. To add some glory for our sponsor Emilie was in a break away as the riders passed the
Hitec Products UK office. With 25km to go Allison Tetrick (Cylance) got away solo and was caught just 100m from the finish. In the final our girls prepared for a lead-out for Kirsten with Tatiana and Lauren, Emilie worked as a buffer on Kirsten’s wheel. With one km to go a crash happened in front of our girls, Kirsten managed to avoid going down, but had to stop completely. Our girls then found themselves out of the competition for the stage win and yellow jersey. Unfortunately for Simona also, she had some back pain causing trouble for her the whole stage race.
Second stage had more altitude, also the weather added a challenge with rain and flooding. The goal was to get Tatiana, Lauren or Vita in a break away or to win a sprint with Kirsten. Already from the start the speed was high with several attempts to form a break but nothing was allowed to go. The peloton split at first GPM, got back together and then before the final GPM Amalie Dideriksen (Boels) and Jasinska Malgorzata (Cipollini) got away. On the GPM the peloton split again forming a group of 25 at the front including Vita and Tatiana. On the technical descent with wet slippery roads and a layer of gravel, not wanting to take any crazy risks, our girls had to let go of the front ending up in the second group.
For stage three, the queen stage, the goal was to get some girls in an early break and then Lauren, Vita or Tatiana in to the winning move. From the start there were lots of attacks and our sprinters Emilie and Kirsten covered it all till first bonus sprint. After the sprint Emilie, Kirsten and Simona attacked to try and create an early break away. Nothing stuck and just before the hill a break of 11 formed without Hitec. Vita, Emilie and Kirsten tried to bridge up to the front and attack to create speed in the peloton ahead of next GPM. At the bottom Emilie and Kirsten did a lead out for Vita, Tatiana and Lauren. They all did a strong climb on the steep hill, but off the front Lizzie Armistead (Boels), Elisa Longo Borghini (Wiggle) and Ashleigh Moolman (Bigla) got a gap and passed the breakaway where Amanda Spratt (Orica) was the only one able to follow. Our girls finished in the second group where Lauren finished to a strong 12th place and Vita did her best result in a WWT with a 20th.
On stage four the most height meters were packed into the last 30km and our girls wanted to get into a break before that, hoping it could stick till the finish. Our girls were super aggressive from the start trying to get away, but no big group was allowed to go. After 50km trouble started for our girls with Lauren needing a bike change while Emilie waited with her to help bring her back. Next Kirsten was involved in a crash before a huge crash at the bottom of the first GPM involving four of our girls, Lauren, Vita, Simona and Emilie. They all get back on their bikes, but changing and fixing so many bikes takes time and the race was over for our girls who TTT’s to the finish. Tatiana who was without team mates for most of the race managed to do a strong effort finishing in the second group. Our mechanic was probably the most exhausted in our team this day.
Stage five had the same amount of climbing as stage four, but with the climbing spread through the whole stage a sprint was considered more achievable. Our girls wanted to try for a sprint with Kirsten but already early a break of eight formed including Lauren. They got up to four minutes lead before the peloton started controlling and with 10km to go the advantage was down to one minute. The break held of till the finish and with one km to go Lauren tried her chance attacking the group. She was caught but was still able to finish fourth in the sprint. A strong finish after a tough week of racing for our girls.