Stage four of the Aviva Women’s Tour provided another exciting day’s racing, with German World time trial champion, Lisa Brennauer (Velocio-SRAM) winning her first stage after two second places.
The race, between Waltham Cross and Stevenage finished in a bunch sprint from a reduced group, with Brenauer ahead of Sweden’s Emma Johansson (Orica-AIS).
The entire race has been notable for its breakaways. On each stage they have been brought back very late on, and today was no different. Young Dutch rider Sabrina Stultiens (Liv-Plantur) and Elisa Longo-Borghini (Wiggle-Honda) slipped clear after the final Queen of the Mountains, with only 28 kilometres to ride.
Italian Longo-Borghini won this year’s Tour of Flanders with a 33 km break and the pair built an dangerous lead of 50 seconds. As they passed under the kilometre to go marker, however, the peloton were in control, passing them in the final 300 metres on the technical finishing circuit.
Wiggle-Honda are a British team and there is pressure on them to perform at their home event. It was the team plan to have Longo-Borghini escape to force other teams to work.
“We wanted to put pressure on the other teams,” team directeur sportif told Cycling Weekly. “We are not sure about our sprinters, Bronzini is not in great shape and [Jolien] D’hoore did her first race for five weeks and doesn’t have the legs for a stage race yet. So it was the only chance to win the sprint with Jolien.
“Elisa attacked where we told her to, and I thought it was working. But up to then it was an easy race, so a lot of girls were fresh. What was good to see was that the top riders from the other leading teams were unable to bring her back alone.
“If you never shoot, you never hit. I don’t care that we lost today, I am very happy that we tried.”
It is 23-year-old Longo-Borghini’s first year at Wiggle-Honda, where she has achieved several impressive results other than her Flanders win, including second at the recent World Cup race in America. She is also the Italian time trial champion.
Brennauer (Velocio-SRAM) finished second on the first two stages and lost the yellow jersey to Christine Majerus during yesterday’s stage in Kettering. Today’s win means she will start tomorrow’s final stage between Marlow and Hemel Hempstead, wearing the leader’s jersey once again.
“Boels-Dolmans did a lot of work and we sent a rider to do the chase,” she said after the race. “Because of the undulating course and the fact they had almost a minute lead, I wasn’t quite sure we would see them again before the finish.
“How the GC is now makes the race more exciting, and there are still some seconds on the road that everyone is going to fight very hard for. Me and my team are going to do the very best to bring the jersey home, now we have it back.”
Tomorrow’s 102 kilometre stage is hilly throughout and should prove a challenge for the peloton. There has been a change in race leader on every day and there is still potential for the jersey to change hands one more time.
Aviva Women’s Tour, stage 4: Waltham Cross to Stevenage
1. Lisa Brennauer (Ger) Velocio-SRAM in 2-36-35
2. Emma Johansson (Swe) Orica-AIS
3. Lotta Lepestö (Fin) Bigla
4. Christine Majerus (Lux) Boels-Dolmans
5. Hannah Barnes (GBr) UnitedHealthcare
6. Amalie Dideriksen (Den) Boels-Dolmans
7. Alexis Ryan (USA) UnitedHealthcare
8. Sara Mustonen (Swe) Liv-Plantur
9. Elisa Longo-Borghini (Ita) Wiggle-Honda
10. Sabrina Stultiens (Ned) Liv-Plantur all same time
Overall classification after stage four
1. Lisa Brennauer (Ger) Velocio-SRAM in 12-22-35
2. Christine Majerus (Lux) Boels-Dolmans at 9 secs
3. Jolien D’hoore (Bel) Wiggle-Honda at 10 secs
4. Emma Johansson (Swe) Orica-AIS at 11 secs
5. Hannah Barnes (GBr) UnitedHealthcare at 22 secs
6. Alexis Ryan (USA) UnitedHealthcare at 28 secs
7. Pascale Jeuland (Fra) Poitou-Charentes Futuroscope.18 at 28 secs
8. Maria Confalonieri (Ita) Alé Cipollini at 28 secs
9. Susanna Zorzi (Ita) Lotto-Belisol Ladies at 28 secs
10. Simona Frapporti (Ita) Alé Cipollini at 28 secs
Video: Wiggle Honda Women’s Tour 2015