A strong team time trial for High Road on Sunday propelled Judith Arndt in the overall lead of the prestigious Tour de L'Aude stage race. In the 27 kilometre stage starting and finishing in Port La Nouvelle, France, High Road's squad crossed the line in second place, a mere six seconds down on the Netherlands team.
Arndt, twice a former winner overall of L'Aude, now leads Germany's Trixi Worrack by 12 seconds. "It was so close a call and the differences were so minimal we can't regret not winning too much," High Road director Ronny Lauke said afterwards. "We did everything we could, it was just a case of the Netherlands team being that little bit stronger on the day. Plus we got the lead, which is hugely important and a great consolation prize."
"The first three kilometres of the course were crucial, because there were a lot of roundabouts and other road furniture to get past. Once we'd done that technical part, the course wasn't so difficult and the riders could really give it everything." As is always the case in team time trials, the whole squad had to contribute to ensure High Road stayed in the picture. "Everybody played their part. Judith and Linda Villumsen kept the pace high on the one key climb mid-way through, and then the other riders covered the flatter sections before and afterwards. In the last part there was a strong tailwind which meant we really flew all the way back to the finish."
High Road is determined to defend Arndt's overall lead, and Lauke points to stage four as "the one which will be the biggest factor in the outcome of the whole event – it's got two Hors category climbs and a first category climb as well. No other stage is so difficult."