A hilly, aggressive day of racing saw Australian Sarah Roy (Orica-Scott) take victory on stage four of the Ovo Energy Women’s Tour in Chesterfield.
The sprinter survived as part of a small group to charge clear, crossing the line ahead of Christine Majerus (Boels-Dolmans) and Leah Kirchmann (Sunweb).
Despite being isolated from her teammates, and the virtual lead of the overall being taken by Majerus at one stage, Polish champion Kasia Niewiadoma (WM3 Energie) retained the race lead.
Even the neutralised zone of the course was hilly, and once the 123.1km race got going the peloton exploded nearly immediately, with riders spread across Derbyshire.
On a descent to the base of the first classified climb at Middleton Top, Dutch rider Lucinda Brand (WM3) attacked, hoping to gain enough mountain classifications points to challenge for the climber’s jersey.
She gained maximum points then, but was unable to score enough points on the subsequent climbs to take the competition lead from Wiggle-High5’s Audrey Cordon-Ragot.
However, a selection had been made on the climb and, before the first intermediate sprint at Bleper, which came after 50km, three riders escaped.
Shara Gillow (FDJ-Nouvelle Aquitaine Futuroscope) who had been part of the break on stage three, went first, and was soon followed by Roy and Kirchmann.
While the gap grew to around a minute, as they approached the second classified climb at Crich, the chasing group brought the gap down, allowing Majerus to bridge across.
Over the ensuing kilometres and as the course became less hilly, the gap grew to 2-35, putting the Luxembourgish rider in the virtual leader’s jersey.
As the gap grew, Niewiadoma’s group sat up, allowing some of her team-mates to come across and begin the chase, and with the gap down the 30 seconds, the break was allowed to contest the win.
“That was one of the hardest races I have ever done, constantly up and down with a lot of short steep climbs,” Niewiadoma told reporters after the race. “I knew it was going to be a dangerous one and I knew that we had to start driving to bring her [Majerus] back because she is a dangerous rider.
“I tried to stay calm and relaxed and my sport director was coaching me and giving advice on what I had to do. It was cool that at the end Bigla and Canyon helped us chase the breakaway, I knew they wanted to keep Hannah Barnes in third place on GC, so it was cool they were eager to ride.
“I am super happy that this jersey is still with me after all these battles on the road.”
As Roy celebrated her first WorldTour win – and that of her team – her front wheel hit a cobble, crashed and she was subsequently taken to hospital.
Finishing fifth, Hannah Barnes (Canyon-SRAM) now occupies the same position on GC, taking the best British rider award from her sister for the second time this week.
Niewiadoma should be able to retain the leader’s green jersey on Sunday when the peloton take on the final stage. They will ride 14 laps of the same 6.2km circuit in central London which has closed the Tour of Britain in recent years.
Completely flat, WM3 Energie should have the firepower to control the race, even without the strength and experience of Marianne Vos, who broke her collarbone in a Stage three crash.
Ovo Energy Women’s Tour 2017, stage four: Chesterfield to Chesterfield (123.1km)
1. Sarah Roy (Aus) Orica-Scott 3-27-48
2. Christine Majerus (Lux) Boels-Dolmans at 0-01
3. Leah Kirchmann (Can) Sunweb at 0-05
4. Marta Baastianelli (Ita) Alé-Cipollini Galassia at 0-17
5. Hannah Barnes (Gbr) Canyon-SRAM
6. Giorgia Bronzini (Ita) Wiggle-High5
7. Alexandra Manly (Aus) Orica-Scott
8. Ellen van Dijk (Ned) Sunweb
9. Lucinda Brand (Ned) Sunweb all at same time
10. Sofie de Vuyst (Bel) LEnsworld-Kuota at 0-22
1. Kasia Niewiadoma (Pol) WM3 Energie 15-06-31
2. Christine Majerus (Lux) Boels-Dolmans at 1-25
3. Leah Kirchmann (Can) Sunweb at 1-36
4. Ellen van Dijk (Ned) Sunweb at 1-38
5. Hannah Barnes (Gbr) Canyon-SRAM at 1-41
6. Alice Barnes (Gbr) Drops at 1-46
7. Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio (RSA) Cervélo-Bigla at 1-52
8. Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig (Den) Cervélo-Bigla at 1-58
9. Dani King (Gbr) Cylance at 1-59
10. Elisa Longo-Borghini (Ita) Wiggle-High5 at 2-00