Britain’s Lizzie Armitstead won the first stage of the Tour de l’Aude and took the overall lead on Saturday.
The 21-year-old from Otley was part of a group of 11 riders who broke clear 26 kilometres into the 117-kilometre stage that started and finished in Rieux Minervois.
The finish suited Armitstead perfectly and she was able to use her track craft and turn of speed to outsprint the rest of the group, which contained five Dutch riders. The leaders finished 1-16 ahead of the bunch, led home by Marianne Vos, one of the favourites to win overall.
Armitstead now leads Adrie Visser of the Netherlands by seven seconds overall. The victory was the second in a row for Cervélo, after Regina Bruins won Friday’s prologue.
Sunday’s stage is a 34-kilometre team time trial. Armitstead’s Cervélo Test Team will be the favourites, judging by the way they placed five riders in the first sixteen in the prologue time trial.
With Team Sky’s Ben Swift winning the second stage at the Tour of Picardie in France, two young British riders will start Sunday as the overall leaders of their respective races.
Results: Stage one: Rieux-Minervois – Rieux-Minervois, 117km
1. Elizabeth Armitstead (GB) Cervelo in 3-14-09
2. Chantal Blaak (Ned) GS Leontien
3. Adrie Visser (Ned) HTC-Columbia
4. Martine Bras (Ned) Gauss-RDZ-Ormu
5. Brooke Milner (USA) Tibco
6. Loes Gunewijk (Ned) Netherlands
7. Beatrice Thomas (Fra) ESGL93
8. Romy Kasper (Ger) Noris Cycling all same time
9. Katheryn Matis (USA) USA at 3sec
10. Petra Dijkman (Ned) Redsun at 6sec
1. Elizabeth Armitstead (GB) Cervélo 3-18-50
2. Adrie Visser (Ned) HTC-Columbia at 7sec
3. Chantal Blaak (Ned) GS Leontien at 14sec
4. Loes Gunnewijk (Ned) Netherlands at 20sec
5. Brooke Miller (USA) Tibco at 23sec
14. Marianne Vos (Ned) Netherlands at 1-28
15. Emma Pooley (GB) Cervélo at 1-30
23. Sharon Laws (GB) Cervélo at 1-38