After a challenging year, Chloe Hosking took her first WorldTour win of 2019 on Sunday, winning the second stage of the Madrid Challenge.
The Australian was almost surprised as she crossed the line with a decent gap at the end of her powerful sprint, just ahead of Letizia Paternoster (Trek-Segafredo), with Roxane Fournier (Movistar) in third.
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Finishing down in 16th place on the stage, German road champion Lisa Brennauer (WNT-Rotor) held on to her overall lead, winning the two stage race ahead of Lucinda Brand (Sunweb).
With five bonus seconds available at seven intermediate sprints, the pair battled all day long, with former time trial world champion Brennauer coming out on top by 10 seconds.
Hosking benefited from excellent support from her Alé-Cipollini team, who led her out perfectly. In the closing three laps when rain began to fall on the Spanish capital for the second day in succession, her team took her to the front, protecting her from a series of crashes on the slick roads.
The win was only Hosing’s second of the year, her first coming last week at the Premondial Giro Toscana. It also pays back faith placed in her by Australian national selectors, who last week named her in the road team for the Yorkshire World Championships.
How it happened
The 98.6km race took in 17 laps of the same 5.8km Madrid city centre circuit used by the men for the last stage of the Vuelta later in the day, and was spiced up with a number of intermediate sprints.
Each of the seven primes was awarded with a maximum five second bonus, adding real dynamism to the race which was fantastically aggressive throughout.
First to attack was Spanish champion Lourdes Oyarbide (Movistar), but she was brought back as the race entered its second lap, ahead of the first intermediate.
There, having begun the day with a four second lead, Brennauer made her winning intentions clear, beating Brand into second place, bagging the maximum time and extending her overall lead.
The next time round, Sunweb were unable to score any bonus seconds, apparently raising the white flag when it came to the general classification, instead opting to activate the race, with Floortje Mackaij getting off the front.
She was joined by German rider Lotti Becker (FDJ-Nouvelle Aquitaine-Futuroscope) the pair being allowed to build a lad of 30 seconds. But once again they were closed down, though only after taking the bonuses, with Brand clawing one second back, leading the bunch home.
That fight continued withBrennauer and Brand exchanging blows on most of the sprints. At one stage Brand was just three seconds down, but in the end Brennauer entered the final lap with a lead of 10 seconds.
The rest of the race was a chaos of attacking. No single lap went by without an individual or group of riders trying their luck off the front, making for a thoroughly entertaining spectacle. Only when the rain began to fall as the end of the race loomed, and a large crash split the peloton, did the action calm.
Ceratizit Madrid Challenge by La Vuelta, stage two: Madrid – Madrid (98.6km)
1. Chloe Hosking (Aus) Alé-Cipollini in 2-20-31
2. Letizia Paternoster (Ita) Trek-Segafredo
3. Roxane Fournier (Fra) Movistar
4. Lucinda Brand (Ned) Sunweb
5. Christine Majerus (Lux) Boels-Dolmans
6. Maria Martins (Por) Sopela
7. Jolien D’hoore (Bel) Boels-Dolmans
8. Kirsten Wild (Ned) WNT-Rotor
9. Floortje Mackaij (Ned) Sunweb
10. Eugénie Duval (Fra) FDJ-Nouvelle Aquitaine-Futuroscope all at same time
Final general classification
1. Lisa Brennauer (Ger) WNT-Rotor in 2-33-06
2. Lucinda Brand (Ned) Sunweb at 10 sec
3. Pernille Mathiesen (Den) Sunweb at 28 sec
4. Christine Majerus (Lux) Boels-Dolmans at 35 sec
5. Eugenia Bujak (Slo) BTC-City Ljubljana at 36 sec
6. Karol-Ann Canuel (Can) Boels-Dolmans at same time
7. Anna Plichta (Pol) Trek-Segafredo at 37 sec
8. Letizia Paternoster (Ita) Trek-Segafredo at 38 sec
9. Floortje Mackaij (Ned) Sunweb at 39 sec
10. Franziska Koch (Ger) Sunweb at 41 sec