Brown goes down fighting on the final stage of the Women’s TourSat 15 Jun 2019
Australian Grace Brown went down fighting as the Women’s Tour concluded with a punishing final stage in the Welsh countryside.
Brown ended her first race back since breaking her collarbone last month by making it into a strong breakaway group before launching a late attack in the closing kilometres.
With two categorised climbs surrounded by a host of uncategorised ramps, the final stage was set to be another tough day on the bike for the peloton, with the Black Mountain climb the showpiece of the 125.9-kilometre route to Pembery Country Park.
There was action from the gun with several attempts to head up the road coming and going before a group of 11 riders eventually forged clear, with Brown amongst them. The escapees worked well together to open up an advantage of just shy of two minutes, but Trek-Segafredo were keen to keep them on a tight leash as they controlled the gap at the head of the peloton.
The break stayed clear over the first of the categorised climbs, but as the category-one Black Mountain approached, the gap began to fall. With the pack closing in the attacks began to roll out of the leading group and Brown was distanced on the slopes as the five riders made it over the top ahead of the rest.
However, Brown dug in to keep the leaders in sight and bridged her way back to the quintet as the group grew to seven on the descent. But the action on the climb and the high tempo in the peloton saw the gap to the break reduced significantly and it was all over by the 40-kilometre to go marker.
With the race reset, the teams of the general classification contenders took control on the largely downhill run towards the finish, but they couldn’t prevent further attacks from being launched with Brown jumping across to a lone clear with eight-kilometres to go.
The duo held a slender advantage over a chasing bunch that were keen to set it up for a sprint and the peloton got their wish as Brown was caught with two-kilometres to go. In the end it was Amy Pieters (Boels - Dolmans Cycling Team) who came out on top in the kick for the line with Alex Manly crossing the line in 10th.
“I really wanted to get in the break ahead of the main climb of today. I got involved in some attacks at about 10-kilometres in when the bunch was strung out over the top of a small climb. We got a really strong group of 10 girls together and It looked really promising to stay away.”
“I was really hurting once the break got caught. The pace in the bunch was high and there were a lot of attacks. It calmed down with about 20-kilometres to go and the bunch let an Ale-Cipollini get away. (Sarah) Roy suggested that I should pick a moment to go with speed and bridge across. At first I thought it was a crazy idea, but I talked myself into at least trying. I took the inside line on a fast bend and got a good gap to make it over to the lone rider. I really thought there was a chance we could make it and take the stage win, but the bunch was chasing super hard.”
“It’s been probably the toughest week of my cycling career here, but I’m really happy to finish today on a high knowing that we tried all we could and helped make the racing exciting.”
Women's Tour - Stage 6 Results:
1. Amy Pieters (Boels - Dolmans Cycling Team) 3:27:02
2. Leah Kirchmann (Team Sunweb) ST
3. Roxane Fournier (Movistar Team) ST
10. Alex Manly (Mitchelton-SCOTT) ST
Final General Classification:
1. Lizzie Deignan (Trek-Segafredo) 21:09:25
2. Kasia Niewiadoma (Canyon SRAM Racing) +0:02
3. Amy Pieters (Boels - Dolmans Cycling Team) +0:23
23. Grace Brown (Mitchelton-SCOTT) +6:21
Photos courtesy of Getty Images.