Alex Manly (BikeExchange-Jayco) has continued an impressive run of form to finish fourth overall at the Women’s Tour, finishing 24 seconds down on general classification after a hilly edition of the race.
Manly recently dominated at the Lotto Thüringen Ladies Tour in Germany, winning four out of six stages and the overall. At the Women’s Tour, Manly showed she can replicate that strength on the WorldTour stage, too.
The decisive day for Manly was stage 5, where she finished fifth, putting in an impressive ride to finish in the first group, ahead of seasoned climber Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio (SD Worx).
“I wasn’t that surprised myself, but I think other people who don’t know me very well probably were,” Manly said of her stage 5 result. “I didn’t know for sure what would happen but I was happy to be there in the end.”
Manly’s efforts on stage 5, plus second place on stage 3 and sixth on stage 4, earned her fourth overall at the culmination of the race.
“I’m really happy with that,” she said. “The girls were amazing all week, I think we put ourselves out there, we took opportunities. I made a few mistakes, but I’m still learning, and I’m really happy that I could even be fourth.
“I think that’s a great achievement for me, even though I’m a little bit disappointed to not make the podium, but the girls I’m racing against have been doing this a long time. I’m just really happy and thankful for the work the girls did all week.”
BikeExchange-Jayco implemented a two-pronged attack on the two hillier courses of stages 4 and 5, with Kristen Faulkner joining Manly in both the elite selections that formed during the two stages.
“For Kristen, it was probably more to attack, to see if she could get a stage win,” Manly said of the team’s plan on Friday. “But for me I was more just hanging on and if I had legs at the end to sprint, but I didn’t have much in the end yesterday.”
Though BikeExchange-Jayco did not pull off a win at the Women’s Tour, the team were pleased to have left their mark on the race.
“It’s been really fun,” Faulkner said. “We have a lot of cards to play. We have Alex who is a great sprinter, then we have some climbers as well so it’s been really fun to be able to play off of each other and show our strengths on every stage.”
For Manly, a successful three weeks across the Lotto Thüringen Ladies Tour and the Women’s Tour has buoyed the 26-year-old ahead of a busy summer of stage racing.
“It definitely makes me feel pretty confident, knowing that what I’m doing is working. I’m looking forward to what’s ahead.”
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Matilda Price is a freelance cycling journalist and digital producer based in the UK. She is a graduate of modern languages, and recently completed an MA in sports journalism, during which she wrote her dissertation on the lives of young cyclists. Matilda began covering cycling in 2016 whilst still at university, working mainly in the British domestic scene at first. Since then, she has covered everything from the Tour Series to the Tour de France. These days, Matilda focuses most of her attention on the women’s sport, writing for Cyclingnews and working on women’s cycling show The Bunnyhop. As well as the Women’s WorldTour, Matilda loves following cyclo-cross and is a recent convert to downhill mountain biking.