Lizzie Armitstead (Boels Dolmans) raised her finger to the air and she cemented herself as the number one rider at the Aviva Women’s Tour. The reigning world champion took victory on stage 3 on Chesterfield by a clear margin after slipping clear in a three-rider break. Later she told the press that her salute was in honour of MP Jo Cox, who was senselessly murdered.
Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio (Cervelo-Bigla) sprinted to second place with Elisa Longo Borghini (Wiggle-High5) taking third. With race leader Marianne Vos (Rabo Liv) dropped on the second climb of the day, Armitstead’s victory put her in yellow at five seconds clear of Moolman-Pasio, with Longo Borghini now in third.
Following the challenging weather conditions of stage 2, there had been threat of more rain to come as the riders set off from Ashbourne just before 11:00. Some drizzle came as the riders made their way through the neutral zone but that soon stopped and the horrible conditions, mercifully, failed to materialise.
The opening kilometres of the stage were demanding as the riders were forced to negotiate undulating country lanes. Attacks began to fly off the front of the bunch immediately but they were quickly nullified. The pace split the bunch in two after just 13 kilometres and Emma Pooley (Great Britain) had to drag the second of the newly formed pelotons across. It wasn’t until just before the halfway mark that a move would finally stick.
Some 11 riders went clear on the approach to the first climb of the day in Winster, building up an advantage of almost a minute by the time they reached the top. Almost all the key teams had a rider in the break with Hannah Barnes (Canyon-SRAM), Jolien D’hoore (Wiggle-High5), Chantal Blaak (Boels Dolmans), Lucinda Brand and Roxanne Knetteman (Rabo Liv) all in the move. Rosella Ratto (Cycance Pro Cycling), Clara Koppenburg (Cervelo-Bigla), Amanda Spratt (Orica-AIS), Janneke Ensing (ParkHotel Valkenburg), Katie Hall (UnitedHealthcare) and Rozanne Slik (Liv Plantur) completed the make-up of the break.
The 11 riders were approaching a two-minute advantage when things began to light up behind. Mountains classification leader, Hall, added to her tally, cresting the top of both climbs at the head of the breakaway.
Armitstead was part of a three-rider group that bridged across to the initial breakaway in the final 40 kilometres. It was Moolman-Pasio that initiated the move at the foot of the final climb, surprising the bunch in the process. Armitstead did not react immediately but used a lead-out from her teammates to jump the gap, taking Longo Borghini with her.
The brutal climb up Bank Road was only a kilometre long but its sheer steepness blew the peloton to pieces and only a group of 30 riders remained behind the attacking trio by the top. The yellow jersey of Vos was one of those who was stuck in the suddenly reduced peloton, unable to mount a significant chase. Last year’s champion Lisa Brennauer (Canyon-SRAM) also missed the split on the steep ramps.
Initially, the gap was small but once they hit the slow, but steady drag at the top of Bank Road the gap ballooned further as they shut down the group of 11 riders that had escaped earlier in the day. The three finally made contact with a little over 30 kilometres remaining to the line and held more than a minute’s advantage over the chasing peloton.
As in the eye of a storm, there were some moments of calm but that didn’t last long. D’hoore put in some efforts on the front for her teammate Longo Borghini, but Armitstead soon started setting a blistering pace. The World Champion was intent on reducing the size of the group, and particularly keen to get rid of some of the faster sprinters before the line. She had some help in the form of Moolman-Pasio, who clearly felt strong on this toughest of days.
Armitstead was the first to break ranks from the leading group, which had reduced to 12 after Brand dropped back to help her teammate Vos behind and D’hoore fell off the pace. Only Moolman-Pasio was able to keep with Armitstead and the two began building a gap. Before too late, Longo Borghini and Spratt followed suit and joined forces with the two out front.
The gap stated to come down quickly and with 10 kilometres still to run they had just 43 seconds on the Vos group. The fast run downhill into Chesterfield helped the four leaders hold off the chase, however, and they still had more than 30 seconds as they entered the technical final kilometre. Armistead made one last move to claim an emotional victory in front of her family, who were at the finish line.
|#||Rider Name (Country) Team||Result|
|1||Elizabeth Armitstead (GBr) Boels Dolmans Cyclingteam||2:54:27|
|2||Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio (RSA) Cervelo Bigla Pro Cycling Team||Row 1 - Cell 2|
|3||Elisa Longo Borghini (Ita) Wiggle High5||Row 2 - Cell 2|
|4||Amanda Spratt (Aus) Orica-AIS||0:00:03|
|5||Marianne Vos (Ned) Rabo Liv Women Cycling Team||0:00:36|
|6||Amalie Dideriksen (Den) Boels Dolmans Cyclingteam||Row 5 - Cell 2|
|7||Leah Kirchmann (Can) Team Liv-Plantur||Row 6 - Cell 2|
|8||Giorgia Bronzini (Ita) Wiggle High5||Row 7 - Cell 2|
|9||Lisa Brennauer (Ger) Canyon SRAM Racing||Row 8 - Cell 2|
|10||Amy Pieters (Ned) Wiggle High5||Row 9 - Cell 2|
|11||Christine Majerus (Lux) Boels Dolmans Cyclingteam||Row 10 - Cell 2|
|12||Lauren Kitchen (Aus) Hitec Products||Row 11 - Cell 2|
|13||Eugénie Duval (Fra) Poitou-Charentes.Futuroscope.86||Row 12 - Cell 2|
|14||Emma Johansson (Swe) Wiggle High5||Row 13 - Cell 2|
|15||Malgorzta Jasinska (Pol) Ale' Cipollini||Row 14 - Cell 2|
|16||Danielle King (GBr) Wiggle High5||Row 15 - Cell 2|
|17||Jermaine Post (Ned) Parkhotel Valkenburg Continental Team||Row 16 - Cell 2|
|18||Floortje Mackaij (Ned) Team Liv-Plantur||Row 17 - Cell 2|
|19||Hannah Barnes (GBr) Canyon SRAM Racing||Row 18 - Cell 2|
|20||Vita Heine (Nor) Hitec Products||Row 19 - Cell 2|
|21||Elena Cecchini (Ita) Canyon SRAM Racing||Row 20 - Cell 2|
|22||Alice Barnes (GBr) Drops Cycling Team||Row 21 - Cell 2|
|23||Sheyla Gutierrez Ruiz (Spa) Cylance Pro Cycling||Row 22 - Cell 2|
|24||Tiffany Cromwell (Aus) Canyon SRAM Racing||Row 23 - Cell 2|
|25||Eugenia Bujak (Pol) BTC City Ljubljana||Row 24 - Cell 2|
|26||Alexandra Manly (Aus) Orica-AIS||Row 25 - Cell 2|
|27||Nikki Harris (GBr) Boels Dolmans Cyclingteam||Row 26 - Cell 2|
|28||Alena Amialiusik (Blr) Canyon SRAM Racing||Row 27 - Cell 2|
|29||Gracie Elvin (Aus) Orica-AIS||Row 28 - Cell 2|
|30||Eleonora Van Dijk (Ned) Boels Dolmans Cyclingteam||Row 29 - Cell 2|
|31||Eva Buurman (Ned) Parkhotel Valkenburg Continental Team||Row 30 - Cell 2|
|32||Anna Plichta (Pol) BTC City Ljubljana|