Lizzie Armitstead (Boels-Dolmans) secured overall victory at the Aviva Women’s Tour in Kettering after stage four, crossing the line just a few seconds behind stage winner Lotta Lepistö (Cervelo-Bigla).
World champion Armitstead began the day with an eight second lead over Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio (Cervelo-Bigla) and ten seconds on Elisa Longo-Borghini (Wiggle-High5).
Despite losing half her team overnight to sickness and injury it was, however, Marianne Vos (Rabo-Liv), at 15 seconds, who was the main threat. With a total of 16 bonus seconds available and a potent sprint which had brought previous success this week, Vos could have threatened Armitstead’s yellow jersey at the last time of asking.
“We were totally focussed on the first sprint,” Boels-Dolmans team manager Danny Stam told Cycling Weekly at the finish.
“I said that was the bunch sprint and that’s where we finished the race, after that we could let the group out and keep them on one minute. In the end some other teams took it over and I played a little bit with the time gap, but with the group out the [bonus] seconds were gone and it was easier.’
Stage winner and Finnish champion Lepistö had been part of a seven woman group which had formed after that sprint point who were able to build a lead of over four minutes. Such a large gap placed Briton Molly Weaver (Liv-Plantur) in the virtual lead as she had begun the day only 1-41 down on Armitstead.
After 65km of the 113km stage between Northampton and Kettering, Boels-Domans instigated a chase, bringing the gap to one minute with 10km to ride. Armitstead’s team then maintained that gap, allowing the group to fight for stage honours.
In the final few kilometres other teams helped with the chase, bringing the gap down and, despite a crash in the final kilometre the top 62 riders were given the same time.
Armitstead becomes the first British winner of the event in its three year history after Vos won the opening race and German Lisa Brennauer (Canyon-SRAM) took the honours last year.
Aviva Women’s Tour stage five, Northampton to Kettering (113km)
1. Lotta Lepistö (Fin) Cervelo-Bigla 3-07-00
2. Marta Bastianelli (Ita) Alé Cipollini, st
3. Elena Cecchini (Ita) Canyon-SRAM, st
4. Lauren Kitchen (USA) Hitec Products, st
5. Eugenia Bujak (Pol) BTC City Lubljana, st
6. Molly Weaver (GBr) Liv-Plantur, st
7. Janneke Ensing (Ned) Parkhotel Valkenburg, st
8. Leah Kirchmann (Can) Liv-Plantur, st
9. Jolien D’hoore (Bel) Wiggle High5, st
10. Marianne Vos (Ned) Rabo-Liv, st
Final overall standings after stage four
1. Lizzie Armitstead (GBr) Boels-Dolmans, 16-00-39
2. Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio (SA) Cervelo-Bigla, at 11s
3. Elisa Longo-Borghini (Ita) Wiggle-High5, at 13
4. Marianne Vos (Ned) Rabo-Liv, at 18s
5. Amanda Spratt (Aus) Orica-AIS, at 20s
6. Leah Kirchmann (Can) Liv-Plantur, at 40s
7. Amy Pieters (Ned) Wiggle-High5, at 43s
8. Emma Johansson (Swe) Wiggle-High5 at 49s
9. Gracie Elvin (Aus) Orica-AIS, at 53s
10. Floortje Mackaij (Ned) Liv-Plantur, at 53s