In what was perhaps the least predictable stage of the week, Sarah Roy (Mitchelton-Scott) won the third day of the OVO Energy Women’s Tour in Royal Leamington Spa on Friday. The Australian sprinted clear of a group of 45 to win the sprint ahead of former world champions Giorgia Bronzini (Cylance) and Marianne Vos (Waowdeals.)
Team Sunweb’s Coryn Rivera finished fourth having consolidated her overall lead winning the first intermediate sprint, with Vos moving up to second ahead of Brit Dani Rowe, who finished the day in tenth place.
In what was a carbon-copy of the corresponding stage last year, the group formed on the run into Royal Leamington Spa at the end of the 150.4km stage, after the peloton split on two late classified climbs.
It was these climbs which made the final so unpredictable, but with the last of them coming with more that 25km remaining, those just off the back were always likely to get back on to contest the final.
How it happened
Friday’s stage between Atherstone and Royal Leamington Spa was the longest of the week but began like the previous days, the peloton happy to roll along. Any occasional attacks were soon shut down, and even one containing 12 riders from a number of teams was unable to gain any advantage.
The race continued in the same vein for the first 35km, until the first intermediate sprint in Kenilworth where Coryn Rivera (Team Sunweb) consolidated her overall, winning the maximum three bonus seconds, with Boels-Dolmans Christine Majerus two and Dani Rowe (Waowdeals) one.
The ensuing kilometres were frantic, with repeated attacks at the front and the pace high as they passed through the highly technical centre of Warwick.
Emerging from this chaos, with 98km remaining two riders forced themselves clear of the bunch. After a brief battle Ann-Sophie Duyck (Cervélo-Bigla) and Norwegian champion Vita Heine (Hitec Products) established a lead of two minutes before Moniek Tenniglo (FDJ-Nouvelle Aquitaine Futuroscope) tried the chase the pair down.
Dutch rider Tenniglo was unable to gain much traction, however, and while the bunch let the gap out to 3-55, she was left in no-man’s land 2.40 behind the leaders. Eventually, after a brief conference with her team car, she sat up and the race was left with the two woman escape.
Their advantage wavered between 2-30 and three minutes until the first of two classified climbs at Edge Hill. Having been away for some 50km the leaders struggled on the steep slopes, while behind them the peloton exploded and their advantage was slashed to just 30 seconds by the time they took on the descent.
The pair were eventually caught on the second climb, Burton Dassett, which came only 11km later, after which a bunch of around 35 emerged. Though a number of others got back on this was the the winning move, and despite an extremely aggressive final, a sprint from that group was then assured.
Saturday’s penultimate stage sees the peloton take on 131.5km between Evesham and Worcester. Though it undulates all day, the only serious climb comes early on, making another sprint finish likely, though the chance of rain and wind may go some way to prevent that.
OVO Energy Women’s Tour 2018, stage three: Atherstone to Royal Leamington Spa (150.4km)
1. Sarah Roy (Aus) Mitchelton Scott in 3-55-09
2. Giorgia Bronzini (Ita) Cylance
3. Marianne Vos (Ned) Waowdeals
4. Coryn Rivera (USA) Team Sunweb
5. Roxanne Fournier (Fra) FDJ Nouvelle Aquitaine Futuroscope
6. Eugénie Duval (Fra) FDJ Nouvelle Aquitaine Futuroscope, all at same time
7. Maria Giulia Confalonieri (Ita) Valcar PBM, at 2 secs
8. Eva Buurman (Ned) Trek Drops
9. Amy Pieters (Ned) Boels-Dolmans
10. Dani Rowe (Gbr) Waowdeals, all at same time
OVO Energy Women’s Tour general classification after Stage three
1. Coryn Rivera (USA) Team Sunweb, in 11-17-27
2. Marianne Vos (Ned) Waowdeals, at 16 secs
3. Dani Rowe (Gbr) Waowdeals, at 20 secs
4. Amy Pieters (Ned) Boels-Dolmans, at 23 secs
5. Christine Majerus (Lux) Boels-Dolmans, at same time
6. Elisa Longo Borghini (Ita) Wiggle-High5, at 27 secs
7. Eva Buurman (Ned) Trek Drops, at 29 secs
8. Eugenia Bujak (Slo) BTC City Ljubljana
9. Maria Giulia Confalonieri (Ita) Valcar PBM
10.Pauline Ferrand Prevot (Fra) Canyon SRAM, all at same time