Tiffany Cromwell finished a strong second at GP Plouay after instigating the race winning breakaway. The Australian has shown consistently strong form during the second half of the season, adding her first World Cup podium to a Giro Donne stage win and a top ten at the Vargarda World Cup.
“Today was a really big team effort, and it was my turn to fly the flag,” said Cromwell after the podium presentation. “I’m happy to do the job and deliver the result.”
The first two of five laps of the Plouay World Cup circuit contained the usual aggressive attacks, but without any major moves or splits dominating the early action.
“The start was fairly calm,” noted Cromwell. “There were a few attacks but nothing went anywhere. During the third lap, everyone on the team took their turn going up the road. On the third lap, we split into a front group of about 30 riders. We had four of us in the move – Judith [Arndt], Claudia [Häusler], Shara [Gillow] and me.”
Gillow launched repeated small digs following the initial split to force other teams to chase.
“Shara took on an important role today,” said Sports Director Dave McPartland. “She was really active for the team, and her work allowed Tiff and Judith to wait for the right move.”
Cromwell didn’t wait for the right move. Instead, she created it. On the penultimate lap, the second to last time up the deceptively difficult highway hill, the front group blew to pieces. Ten riders made the selection including Cromwell and Arndt. Shortly after the split, Cromwell attacked.
“When I found out Tiff had instigated the move herself, I was really pleased,” said McPartland. “She attacked and [Elisa] Longo Borghini [Hitec Products – Mistral Home] followed. Once those two had established a gap, [Marianne] Vos [Stitching Rabo Women Cycling Team] bridged across to form that group of three. Vos drove the break, and Tiff didn’t ride to start with because we still had Judith behind. I gave the Tiff the okay to start rolling through once the gap went up to two minutes.”
Ten kilometers from the finish, the final race of the World Cup series had turned into a three-rider contest.
“Vos attacked us on the last climb, and I had nothing left,” said Cromwell. “She rode away from us but never got too much of a gap. I attacked Elisa on a small rise at 1.5 kilometers and got a gap on her. I held it to the finish to comfortably finish second.”
McPartland was full of praise for Cromwell.
“Second for us from Tiff today is huge,” he said. “This is a really positive sign that we’re going in the right direction. I’m absolutely thrilled for her. This result means almost much as any win we’ve gotten all season. She’s been closing in on this all year. Most people don’t realize that she nearly got on the podium at the Sweden World Cup last weekend. All they know is she ran seven out of seven, and they don’t realize that she did a really special ride. Today is her reward for working hard all year.”
“This certainly is big,” admitted Cromwell. “It’s on par with my Giro win. I’ve been trying to get a World Cup win for awhile, and Plouay has been one I’ve hoped for. A top five here would have been amazing. Standing on the podium is really special. I’m so happy to do this for the girls and be in a position to finish off the work they did.”
Cromwell was not the only ORICA-AIS rider to stand on the podium in Plouay. With the eight race World Cup series finishing today, Arndt confirmed her second-place overall standing in the series.