After a disappointing result in the time trial on stage 3, Hayley Simmonds (CAMS-Basso Bikes) went on the attack on stage 5 with a huge solo break that at one point saw the British rider move into the virtual lead.
Simmonds attacked early on in the stage and having started the day 2:55 down on race leader Demi Vollering (SD Worx), quickly moved into the virtual race lead with a four-minute advantage with around 32km remaining.
She was eventually caught 16km from the finish, but her efforts and bonus seconds moved her up to 19th overall. More importantly the 33-year-old put to bed some of the disappointment after finishing 23rd in the Atherstone time trial two days ago.
“I was maybe disappointed with the overall result but I was comfortable with the performance,” she told Cyclingnews when asked about her effort against the clock.
Part of her rationale for going on the attack with a long-range move came after some critics had questioned her time trial performance, but at the finish of stage 5 in Clacton she stressed that her actual performance in the time trial wasn’t the issue and that the result was partly down to the fact that the route and style of the course wasn’t a match for her skillset.
“To be honest when I looked at the stage in advance, I didn’t feel like it was the time trial for me. I didn’t think that it played to my strength as a time triallist. It was quite a punchy course and I’m not that much of a punchy time triallist. It was a disappointing placing so today it was really nice to make up for that and remind some people that I’m not just a time triallist, and that I have had road results before. I can road race really well. “A lot of people now just count me as a time triallist and then look at the result from Wednesday and wonder what I’m doing. Hopefully now I’ve shown a couple of people that I can actually race my bike.”
The attack wasn’t entirely planned, however, with the initial hope that riders would join Simmonds up the road and that after taking a set of bonus seconds she could return to the main field and save her legs for the most difficult and much longer final stage on Saturday.
“That was a hard day out there and it wasn’t the plan. The team said it would be cool if the bunch would let me slip away ahead of one of the intermediates so I could take a couple of bonus seconds and maybe jump into the top-twenty. So, I went, and no-one came with me so I was by myself for a really long time. I wanted to get a few bonus seconds and then chill in the bunch ahead of tomorrow’s 100-miler.”
“I’ve done a lot of really long time trials. I’ve done 50-mile and 100-milers. I’m used to the effort, and I’ve been set a lot of 90-minute efforts in training this year. So, I know what I can do for 90 minutes. So, I got into my rhythm, and I thought maybe I could hold it. I was wondering if there was a combativity prize for the day, but it was honestly really cool. I was on home roads, people were cheering my name and I was getting a lot of support outside the schools.”
After The Women’s Tour the CAMS rider will turn her attention to the British National Championships in Lincoln next weekend. Her efforts on stage 5 will act as a huge confidence booster ahead of the Championships and could possibly lift the rest of the CAMS team, who were all quick to congratulate Simmonds at the finish line. For her part Simmonds joked that her coach might have some slight concerns with her fatigue but she acknowledged that her form is moving in the right direction.
“That was maybe a bit more effort than I was banking on but so my coach might look at that and be a bit frustrated with the fatigue level, but it was really nice to be away on home roads in the UK.”
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Daniel Benson is the Editor in Chief at both Cyclingnews.com and BikePerfect.com. Based in the UK, he has worked within cycling for almost 15 years, and he joined the Cyclingnews team in 2008 as the site's first UK-based Managing Editor. In that time, he has reported on over a dozen editions of the Tour de France, several World Championships, the Tour Down Under, Spring Classics, and the London 2012 Olympic Games. With the help of the excellent editorial team, he runs the coverage on Cyclingnews and has interviewed leading figures in the sport including UCI Presidents and Tour de France winners.
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