Amy Pieters (Wiggle High5) was surprised by her victory in stage 2 at the Aviva Women's Tour in Stratford. In a photo-finish sprint, she narrowly beat Lisa Brennauer (Canyon-SRAM) with Marianne Vos (Rabo Liv) just behind in third.
"At first I was a bit - not really shocked - but surprised," Pieters said in a team press release. "I said to Giorgia [Bronzini] ‘I will help you with the lead out,' because I was in a perfect situation, and I went quite early. I thought I have to do it, and maybe Giorgia's in my wheel, and I won it!
"The first thing I said to Giorgia was: ‘Oh sorry!' but this is what we fight for the whole year, and I hope we can have more this week - and this year.
"I think maybe it was because I was so relaxed, and I wanted to help Giorgia in the final. Maybe that's how you can do a good sprint; if you are not stressed, and you stay calm. Actually, it was perfect."
Vos took over the race lead from stage 1 winner Christine Majerus (Boels Dolmans), with Pieters now into third. Vos is also leading the points competition, while Katie Hall (UnitedHealthcare) took the lead in the mountains competition, Floortje Mackaij (Team Liv-Plantur) is leading the young rider competition and world champion Lizzie Armitstead (Boels-Dolmans) is leading the British rider competition.
Stage 2 at the Aviva Women's Tour proved a greater challenge than the previous stage, not helped by the wet weather conditions. The 140km race started in Atherstone and finished in Stratford-Upon-Avon, and the day's course included two intermediate sprints and two mountains for points. Lotta Lepistö (Cervelo-Bigla) and Vos took the first two sprints, while Pieters won at the finish line, setting up the points competitions and reshuffling the overall classification.
In the kick off to the mountain competition, Hall took top points over the first climb in Burton Dasset at the 70km mark. Malgorzta Jasinska (Ale' Cipollini) took the next set of mountain points over the second climb to Ilmington at the 116km mark.
There were several breakaway attempts and in the end it was a smaller 25-rider group that sprinted for the line. The day belonged to Pieters, who not only won the sprint, but beat some of the best sprinters at their own game.
“It was a hard day, with some rain and a lot of hills,” Pieters explained. “We did a really good job with the team; we were all there. We have such a strong team out here this week, so we can play a lot of cards, and I’m happy that I could finish it today.
“I can be fast in the sprint, but I’m not a real, real sprinter, so I can also do hills like this - the smaller ones. The long ones are harder for me, but those like this are perfect for me. The others are more tired and it makes it even harder, and so I’m happy that I could do this.
“I think I’m fine with this weather,” she said of the heavy rain that fell on much of the stage. “Once you’ve started it’s not a big problem because you're so focused on the race, and it’s not that cold so actually I liked it!”
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