German sprinter wins breakaway stage; Tour de l'Aude overall unchanged
By Ben Atkins in Toulouges
German super-sprinter Ina-Yoko Teutenberg (High Road) won stage five of the Tour de l'Aude after a 50-kilometre breakaway with compatriot Charlotte Becker (Nürnberger Versicherung). The pair broke away on the technical descent from the second climb of the day – the second category Col Fourtou – and they managed to stay away to the finish, despite the efforts of the rest of the peloton, led in the later stages by the DSB Bank team.
After building up a maximum lead of around two minutes and forty seconds, the German pair saw their advantage reduced to just a handful of seconds by the final kilometres. As Teutenberg took what proved in the end to be a simple victory over an exhausted Becker, Monica Holler (Bigla) led the rest home in almost the same time.
"I think we were lucky because I think DSB kind of lost everybody," a breathless Teutenberg told Cyclingnews after her victory. "At three K we had to go up this little bridge so I think they kind of lost their train. At two K to go they were nearly on us, and then all of a sudden I guess they stopped again with a kilometre to go."
"I had to pull the last two kilometres," she explained, "so I was worried Charlotte [Becker] would out-sprint me, but she was just really tired , too." In the end, Becker was too tired to put up much resistance and Teutenberg won an almost uncontested sprint against her compatriot.
"[We attacked] just after the second mountaintop, on the downhill," she continued. "There were constant attacks and then there was a lull in between and we kind of got the gap. That was perfect, really. We did everything we could, luckily we just [held] on at the end."
At no point during their breakaway did the pair's advantage reach an insurmountable margin, and with a concerted chase from an organised team it reduced rapidly to the point where they surely should have been caught. "I think [the gap went up to] 2'40," said Teutenberg, "but then DSB started chasing and it came down pretty consistently in the last 30 kilometres.
"I think my cold has gone!" she added with a laugh.
Dutch rider Adrie Visser (DSB Bank) described the team's chase to Cyclingnews and the reasons for its ultimate failure. "With 10 kilometres to go we heard it was just 30 seconds, so we decided to close the gap," said the winner of the 2007 Ronde van Drenthe, "only the sprint girls made a bit of a fault… so we just had one for the last 700 metres. Then the whole peloton took over…"
Once the rest of the peloton had come past, the DSB Bank team found itself swamped and Angela Brodtka was beaten to the line by Bigla's punchy sprinter Monica Holler. "Otherwise I think we'd close the gap," she said of the final kilometre mix up that so disrupted the team's chase.
"Work for nothing!" she said with a philosophical smile.
"Yes, it was a good day," stated maillot jaune Susanne Ljungskog of her first day in yellow. "It was a fast day. There was a lot of attacks from the girls, and it was quite hard."
A hard day chasing her rivals has emphasised to the former two-time World champion that, despite holding a lead of more than three and a half minutes over her nearest rival Judith Arndt (High Road), the race is far from won. "[They attacked] a lot," she continued, "so it's going to be a hard four days, I have to watch out."
Ever optimistic, Amber Neben (United States) was on the attack again, both to try to make up time on Ljungskog and maybe to make up a few places in the overall classification. "There's a few people in front of me [in the general classification] and then a bigger gap," she explained, "so I don't know, I was just looking for opportunities. I figured people would be a little bit tired from yesterday; you know what: you never know, so you give it a try."
Read the full report.