American Coryn Rivera won the second stage of the Women’s Tour, sprinting clear from a small group to edge out Marianne Vos on a uphill sprint in Daventry on Thursday.
Luxembourg champion Christine Majerus (Boels-Dolmans) took third, with Vos’s British team-mate Dani Rowe a close fourth and is now second on the general classification behind Rivera.
The sprint had come from a group of around 20 riders who had emerged from the final climb of the day, the top of which came only 2.3km from the line. Newnham Hill’s 20 per cent slopes had served to significantly thin the peloton, setting up an exciting sprint uphill into the Northamptonshire town centre.
How it happened
With two early intermediate sprints in the 143.9km stage between Rushden and Daventry, the Women’s Tour peloton stayed largely together for the opening 20km. The bonus seconds on offer here have proved decisive in previous editions of the race, and it was in the interests of those with general classification ambitions to fight for that time.
Rivera took the three seconds in the opening sprint at Easton Maudit, with Rowe taking the honours at Cogenhoe just eight kilometres later, and it was only after they were behind them that the peloton relaxed.
Having found herself near the front after the second sprint Dutch rider Maaike Boogaard (BTC-City Ljubljana) attacked the bunch, and while she had hoped to be joined by others, she soon established a lead of over of two minutes.
Clearly happy with her lead, the 19 year-old was allowed to build that advantage to four minutes with 80 of the 143km left to ride.
However, as the race went on Boogaard clearly began to struggle and her lead was diminished to such an extent that she was caught before the first classified climb of the day at Weedon Hill, just 20km later.
With the escapee safely in the bunch, the race then settled into an uneasy truce, the peloton waiting for the first ascent of Newnham Hill, a second classified climb, to set the race alight.
Wiggle-High5’s Elisa Longo-Borghini attacked first and on the descent was joined by Kasia Niewiadoma (Canyon-SRAM) Marianne Vos and Dani Rowe, both from Waowdeals.
The quartet worked had over the ensuing two kilometres allowing Rowe to win another crucial intermediate sprint when they passed the finish line in Daventry for the first time.
However, with a group of 30 riders chasing, the four were highly unlikely to go to the line, and they were soon joined by a chasing group of 30.
The closing 20km were hugely aggressive, but despite this no one was able to get a gap. Only the final ascent of Newnham Hill made a difference, with a group of 17 riders emerging to contest the final sprint.
As she did at the Tour de Yorkshire, where she finished second overall, Rowe has ridden a clever race with the general classification in mind. As well as today’s extra time she picked up bonus seconds on yesterday’s opening stage and it’s this intelligent approach, supported by Vos, which has placed her in second overall.
She now sits 15 seconds behind Rivera, and both have similar attributes and equally strong teams, ensuring the battle for the general classification is heating up nicely.
Only the final five kilometres of tomorrow’s 150.4km stage between Atherstone and Royal Leamington Spa differ from the corresponding day in last year’s event, which finished in a bunch sprint.
Two classified climbs in the 35km and preceding undulating countryside make for Friday’s perhaps the most unpredictable stage of the five, with any scenario possible. Whatever happens both Rowe and Rivera will need to remain attentive to maintain their positions.
Women’s Tour 2018, stage two: Rushden – Daventry (143.9km)
1. Coryn Rivera (USA) Sunweb in 4-08-06
2. Mariane Vos (Ned) Waowdeals
3. Christine Majerus (Lux) Boels-Dolmans
4. Dani Rowe (Gbr) Waowdeals
5. Gracie Elvin (Aus) Mitchelton Scott
6. Pauline Ferrand Prevot (Fra) Canyon-SRAM
7. Maria Giulia Gonfalonieri (Ita) Valcar PBM
8. Eugenia Bujak (Slo) BTC City Ljubljana
9. Eva Buurman (Ned) Trek Drops
10. Elisa Longo Borghini (Wiggle High5), all same time
General classification after stage two
1. Coryn Rivera (USA) Sunweb in 7-22-22
2. Dani Rowe (Gbr) Waowdeals at 15 seconds
3. Marianne Vos (Ned) Waowdeals at 16 seconds
4. Amy Pieters (Ned) Boels-Dolmans at 17 seconds
5. Christine Majerus (Lux) Boels-Dolmans at 19 seconds
6. Elisa Longo Borghini (Ita) Wiggle High5 at 21 seconds
7. Eugenia Bujak (Slo) BTC City Ljubljana at 23 seconds
8. Eva Buurman (Ned) Trek Drops
9. Maria Giulia Confaalonieri (Ita) Valcar PBM
10. Pauline Ferrand Prevot (Fra) Canyon-SRAM, all same time