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Emma Johannson (Orica-AIS)
Orica-AIS rider loses leader's jersey; happy to force rivals to defend
Just one day after claiming a thrilling sprint victory over rival Marianne Vos (Rabo Liv) in the inaugural Friends Life Women's Tour of Britain, Emma Johansson (Orica-AIS) is fine accepting the role of hunter after slipping to fourth overall, seven seconds behind new race leader Rossella Ratto (Estado de Mexico-Faren).
Italy's Ratto beat fellow Italian Susanna Zorzi (Astana) and Vos in Bedford, after an aggressive 118.5km ride which in Hinckley. Ratto also captured the best young rider's jersey, while Vos took the lead in the points competition and Sharon Laws (UnitedHealthcare) kept her climber's jersey.
"We obviously wanted to do our best to try and keep the yellow jersey," said Johansson, currently the UCI top ranked women's cyclist. "I knew today was going to be important with intermediate sprints and unfortunately I was not able to take any seconds today."
Johansson told Cyclingnews after the race that the decision to bridge the gap and maintain control of the leader's jersey might have been left too late in the race.
"We thought we had things under control and had made the decision not to ride until the final 20 kilometres," she said. "The lead group were on one minute and unfortunately we do not have radio communication and have to rely on the motorbikes. All of the sudden we see the gap is 1:55 which all happened really fast.
"We then put three girls up and started riding but we started a little too late to reel them back."
With three stages remaining, Johansson says the pressure is now on the other teams to defend and win stages.
"I don't think losing the jersey is necessarily a bad thing as it gives us a bit more freedom to race again," she said. "Defending a jersey is totally different than riding for one, so I think it's going to be some interesting stages ahead for sure."
One of those stages Johansson has earmarked as a potential race decider before the finale on Sunday is Friday's 86.8km stage three from Felixstowe to Clacton.
"Tomorrow is going to be a hard stage and hopefully we will be up there toward the front and make it a good race out of it," said Johansson. "I think it's going to be a hard battle between me and Marianne."
For Johansson, an Olympic road race silver medallist (2008) and five-time Swedish national champion (three road race, two time trial), taking on Vos - arguably the most decorated cyclist of her generation - is just another day at the office.
"We are not satisfied," said Johansson of her Orica-AIS squad. "So far we have achieved some of our goals going into this race, but that puts more pressure on the teams that have not achieved as much. I know that Marianne is frustrated and really wants a stage win and to take over yellow as well.
"We have proven that we are a very strong team and we look forward to now being a real part of the race and not just sitting back trying to defend."