By Jonny Long
19-year-old Brit April Tacey won the first stage of the women's virtual Tour de France, beating a number of big names in the sprint for the line.
The Drops rider used a power-up to perfection in the final few metres to beat American Kristen Faulkner (Tibco - Silicon Valley Bank) into second place and Chantal van den Broek-Blaak into third. Faulkner's team-mate Leah Dixon came fourth, while world time trial champion Chloe Dygert (Twenty20) rounded out the top five.
The first stage took in four laps of the 9.1km Watopia hilly reverse course, totalling just over 36km.
Brit Pfeiffer Georgi (Sunweb) was one of a number of riders to get the attacks going before Tanja Erath (Canyon-SRAM won the first sprint.
Chantaal Van den Broek - Blaak and Leah Dixon then decided to push the pace as riders started to get dropped out the back.
There were 35 to 40 riders left with 28km to go, as Elisa Longo Borghini (Trek-Segafredo) attacked, pushing out 450W, but was caught a couple of kilometres later.
Erica Magnaldi (Ceratizit-WNT) was pipped on the line by Jos Lowden on the second ascent of the category three climb, looking to take valuable QoM points for her team
Longo Borghini went again with 16km to go, the volcano billowing lava in the background, but was reeled once more a kilometre later, with the bunch down to around 20 riders now.
Magnaldi was pipped by Lowden again in the next sprint for the summit, with her mum then briefly popping into shot on the following descent.
Chloe Dygert then came to the front as the group began the final lap before Van den Broek - Blaak put in a big attack, hitting 55km as the other riders scrambled behind to get on her wheel.
With 3km to go the reduced peloton was strung out up the climb, as Blaak used an invisibility power-up to try and go clear with 2.5km remaining before Magnaldi brought her back.
Jos Lowden then used a featherweight power-up to fly past Magnaldi and Van den Broek-Blaak as Magnaldi pushed out 11w/kg to fight back and pip her to the summit.
Seven riders then started going clear into the final 1km, the group becoming cagey in the closing kilometre.
Dygert then opened up her sprint but Tacey used a well-time power-up snatch the win on the line.
Virtual Tour de France stage one: Watopia (36.4km)
1. April Tacey (GBr) Drops, in 51-07
2. K Faulkner (USA) Tibco - Silicon Valley Bank, at same time
3. Chantal van den Broek - Blaak (Ned) Boels Dolmans, at one second
4. Leah Dixon (GBr) Tibco - Silicon Valley Bank
5. Chloe Dygert (USA) Twenty20
6. Tanja Erath (Ger) Canyon-SRAM
7. Hannah Ludwig (Ger) Canyon-SRAM
8. Jos Lowden (GBr) Drops, all at same time
9. Jess Pratt (Aus) Canyon-SRAM, at 2s
10. Krista Doebel-Hickok (USA) Rally Cycling, both at same time
Hi. I'm Cycling Weekly's Weekend Editor. I like writing offbeat features and eating too much bread when working out on the road at bike races. I'm 6'0", 26 years old, have a strong hairline and have an adequate amount of savings for someone my age. I'm very single at the minute so if you know anyone, hit me up.
Before joining Cycling Weekly I worked at The Tab, reporting about students evacuating their bowels on nightclub dancefloors and consecrating their love on lecture hall floors. I've also written for Vice, Time Out, and worked freelance for The Telegraph (I know, but I needed the money at the time so let me live).
I also worked for ITV Cycling between 2011-2018 on their Tour de France and Vuelta a España coverage. Sometimes I'd be helping the producers make the programme and other times I'd be getting the lunches. Just in case you were wondering - Phil Liggett and Paul Sherwen had the same ham sandwich every day, it was great.
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