Bastianelli takes sprint win and overall lead on the Women's Tour stage one

The Italian sprinter powered clear to take the win after a crash marred final

Marta Bastianelli (Alé-BTC Ljubljana) takes the win at the opening stage of the 2021 AJ Bell Women's Tour in Banbury
(Image credit: SWPix)

Former world champion Marta Bastianelli won the bunch kick to take victory at the opening stage of the Women’s Tour in Banbury on Monday. 

The Italian was in perfect position in the final bend which came around 250m from the line, surfing wheels to get ahead and take the win ahead of Chloe Hosking (Trek-Segafredo) and Clara Copponi (FDJ-Nouvelle Aquitaine Futuroscope).

With a strong, late breakaway caught only with three kilometres to go the final was marred by a high-speed crash which took down a number of riders, hindering the train of DSM’s sprinter Lorena Wiebes. 

Bastianelli takes the overall race lead into the remaining five stages, with the bunch heading to Walsall in the West Midlands for a short, 102km dynamic race on a circuit to the west of the town centre.  

How it happened

The seventh edition of the Women’s Tour saw the race return to Oxfordshire, a county it visited in its last iteration in 2019. Back then the race’s third stage finished with a rainy bunch kick at Blenheim Palace, but this year the country hosted he opening stage between Bicester and Banbury.

While the two towns are a sort hop apart up the M40, the raced a 147.7km route, first heading south and through Oxford, to an intermediate sprint just before turning north through Abingdon. Crossing the line in Banbury the course took on a lumpy 29.5km loop, including another intermediate sprint before the final sprint to the line.

Other than a couple of flurries, the opening kilometres were fairly benign, much of the peloton still recovering from the effort of Saturday’s Paris-Roubaix, staying together, the pace only lifting sporadically.

Only as the race approached halfway did anyone get away, Anna Christian (Drops-Le Col) and Kirstie van Haaften (Parkhotel Valkenburg) getting a small gap of around 15 seconds. However, just as they headed up the road the bunch hit a stretch of crosswinds, lifting the speed again and bringing the escape back.

However, this move set of a more active period which coincided with the roads becoming more hilly, with Dutch rider Janneke Ensing (BikeExchange) getting a lead of 35 seconds. That lead though did not last long as she was chased down on the first QOM at Iron Down Hill just short of the closing circuit.

The race was super active though, and on the descent from the climb a group of 12 escaped off the front, and while they were soon caught Femke Markus (Parkhotel Valkenburg) and Chiara Consonni (Valcar Travel and Service) then headed up the road.

However, even they were allowed no space, as the race became extremely aggressive, with different groups repeatedly trying to get away. Over the line for the first time, with 29km to go and Christian made another move off the front, gaining a lead of 20 seconds on the bunch.

There was no escape though and the Manx rider was caught before the final intermediate sprint, only for a further, very strong group to head up the road with 10 km to go. Juliette Labous (DSM), Soraya Paladin (Liv Racing), Elise Chabbey (Canyon-SRAM) and the SD Worx duo of Demi Vollering and Amy Pieters managed to build a lead of 20 seconds, on the tight undulating roads ahead of Banbury, but could not make their advantage count.

Caught as they passed the two kilometre marker, the race was set for a bunch kick.

Results

Women’s Tour, stage one: Bicester - Banbury (147.7km)

1. Marta Bastianelli (Ita) Alé-BTC Ljubljana in 3-44-31
2. Chloe Hosking (Aus) Trek-Segafredo
3. Clara Copponi (Fra) FDJ-Nouvelle Aquitaine Futuroscope
4. Sheyla Gutiérrez |(Esp) Movistar
5. Elena Cecchini (Ita) SDWorx
6. Hannah Barnes (Gbr) Canyon-SRAM
7. Sofia Bertizzolo (Ita) Liv Racing
8. Josie Nelson (Gbr) Coop-Hitec Products
9. Amy Pieters (Ned) SDWorx
10. Leah Kirchmann (Can) DSM all at same time 

General classification after stage one 

1. Marta Bastianelli (Ita) Alé-BTC Ljubljana in 3-44-31
2. Chloe Hosking (Aus) Trek-Segafredo at 04 sec
3. Nina Kessler (Ned) Tibco-Silicon Valley Bank at same time 
4. Clara Copponi (Fra) FDJ-Nouvelle Aquitaine Futuroscope ta 06 sec
5. Sarah Roy (Aus) BikeExchange at 07 sec
6. Demi Vollering (Ned) SDWorx at 09 sec
7. Sheyla Gutiérrez |(Esp) Movistar at 10 sec
8. Elena Cecchini (Ita) SDWorx
9. Hannah Barnes (Gbr) Canyon-SRAM 
10. Sofia Bertizzolo (Ita) Liv Racing all at same time