Timing her sprint to perfection, Chloe Hosking won stage four of the Santos Women’s Tour Down Under in Adelaide on Sunday, taking the final day’s victory for the third consecutive year.
Despite having earlier used energy in the intermediate sprints, the Australian from Alé-Cipollini came off the wheel of stage one winner Letizia Paternoster (Trek-Segafredo) only in the final metres.
Having set up her overall win with stage her two win on Mengler Hill, Mitchelton-Scott’s Amanda Spratt played a canny game on the day to take the overall, also for the third consecutive year.
Perfectly supported by her team, not once was Spratt involved in any of the intermediate sprint battles, though she was perfectly positioned just behind them throughout the race.
Only on the final lap did she come to the front, her distinctive leader’s ochre coloured jersey briefly leading the race as she helped lead out team mate Sarah Roy for the final sprint.
While perhaps predictable, the victory is an hint the 31 year-old Australian will continue her rise to the top of the sport. Last season was the best of her career to date, with wins at the Emakumeen Bira, a stage and third place at the Giro Rosa and an excellent showing in the Ardennes classics.
How it happened
There was action from the gun on the Adelaide city circuit, a rider from the Sydney University team immediately getting off the front.
However, the race came back together at the end of the first of 25, 1.7km laps and settled into a rhythm, with repeated breakaway attempts, Sydney University continuing to be particularly aggressive early on.
With three intermediate sprints coming at the end of laps six, 12 and 18, the race took on an interesting complexion. Not only was Roy’s points jersey up for grabs, but the bonus time available meant a change in the overall podium was possible.
Hosking won the opening sprint, closing the gap on her rivals for the sprints jersey, but Rachel Neylan (UniSA-Australia) and Kristabel Doebel-Hickok (Rally-UHC) were fighting for the podium, and finished second and third respectively, moving the former into third place overall.
With so many vested interests, none of the repeated attacks were able to gain any significant advantage before the next intermediate sprint.
A three woman crash a lap before not only took took down Trek-Segafredo’s stage one winner Letizia Paternoster and Brit, Alice Cobb (Team TIBCO-SVB), but also Neylan, possibly denting her podium chances.
However, Doebel-Hickok failed to take advantage, Roy winning that sprint, adding to her tally at the head of the sprints competition.
Ahead of the third and final intermediate sprint the race entered a period of cagey downtime, with a just a few tentative efforts off the front.
Once again Hosking won that final intermediate, with Roy defending her position in second before the race settled for the final seven laps.
Working for Paternoster, Trek-Segafredo took control at the front for the final circuits, neutralising speculative digs off the front and setting the race for its exciting final.
Santos Women’s Tour Down Under, stage four: Adelaide to Adelaide (42.5km)
1. Chloe Hosking (Aus) Alé Cipollini in 1-02-38
2. Letizia Paternoster (Ita) Trek-Segafredo
3. Rachele Barbieri (Ita) BePink
4. Sarah Roy (Aus) Mitchelton-Scott
5. Alison Jackson (Can) Team TIBCO-SVB
6. Arlenis Sierra (Cub) Astana Women
7. Paola Munoz (Chi) Swapit Agolico
8. Lauretta Hanson (Aus) Trek-Segafredo
9. Amy Cure (Aus) Specialized Women’s Racing
10. Gracie Elvin (Aus) Mitchelton-Scott all at same time
Final general classification
1. Amanda Spratt (Aus) Mitchelton-Scott in 10-27-26
2. Lucy Kennedy (Aus) Mitchelton-Scott at 49 seconds
3. Rachel Neylan (Aus) UniSA Australia at 53s
4. Kristabel Doebel-Hickok (USA) Rally-UHC at 55s
5. Alison Jackson (Can) Team TIBCO-SVB at 1-08
6. Jaime Gunning (Aus) Specialized Women’s Racing at 1-09
7. Lauren Stephens (USA) Team TIBCO-SVB at 1-34
8. Taryn Heather (Aus) Specialized Women’s Racing at 1-37
9. Emily Roper (Aus) UniSA Australia at 1-52
10. Ruth Winder (USA) Trek-Segafredo at 1-54