Elvin and Manly finish with the leaders on a challenging second stage of the Women’s Tour

Thu 8 Jun 2017

Multiple Australian national road race champion Gracie Elvin finished in the lead group on a hilly and difficult stage two of the OVO Energy Women’s Tour with ORICA-SCOTT teammate Alex Manly also finishing well.

A fast start to the race belied the wintry conditions with rain and wind marking the early kilometres on the lush green country lanes. Sarah Roy got into a strong six-rider move after 80kilometres of racing until untimely mechanicals forced her to drop back and fresh splits formed on the sharp climbs.

An elite group of around 35riders went on to contest the finish with Elvin and Manly holding well until the final ramps back into downtown Stoke-on-Trent, Amy Pieters (Boels-Dolmans) ran out the eventual winner with Kasia Niewiadoma (WM3) holding onto the eventual race lead.

“It was an aggressive start to the race,” said Elvin. “We had to spend quite a lot of energy covering the early moves before the race settled down. Alex and I did well to get back on to the front group after the harder climbs and we looked for opportunities on the approach to the finale.”

“Alex did a good job of getting me into the closing kilometres and from there I tried to get onto the right wheels, but just lost touch on that final ramp before the finish.”

Two more hard days lie ahead before the race hits central London and despite some unfortunate setbacks the Australian outfit remain upbeat and on the lookout for stage opportunities.

“Since yesterday our outlook on the race hasn’t changed,” said sport director Martin Barras. “And that’s what we tried to show today. Sarah did really well to get into what looked to be a strong move at an important time and she was very unfortunate to need a second bike change at a key moment.”

“It’s a positive sign that Sarah is riding well and showing great awareness at key moments on the race and we just have to press the reset button and give it another go tomorrow.

“In the finale we attempted to set up Gracie for a group finish and Alex did a superb job in trying to make that happen for us. Ultimately Gracie ran out of legs just ahead of the sprint and again we just have to reset and look to tomorrow which is a very similar parcours to today and will hopefully throw up some more opportunities.”

How it happened:

Low temperatures, rain and swirling winds welcomed the riders to the start of a hilly stage two in Stoke-on-Trent today with several attacks attempting to form in the early kilometres as the race headed out into the Staffordshire countryside.

The pace was high over the first couple of hours of racing and into the feed zone with the attacks continuing to come. After 80kilometes had been covered two riders had finally managed to break free and held one minute over the peloton.

Into the final 50kilometres and the two leaders had been brought back as a new group of six went clear, the group included Roy of ORICA-SCOTT and Lucinda Brand (Sunweb).

A series of unfortunate mechanicals forced Roy to the back of the race as Brand pushed on ahead and off the front alone with a gap of 55seconds to the closest chaser and 25kilometres to go.

Brand was caught with less than 20kilometres left to race by a front group that included Elvin and Manly.

The pace stayed high as the group wound it’s way back into central Stoke-on-Trent and despite numerous attacks the group remained compact until the final 500metres when Pieters stole a jump to claim the stage victory from a reduced bunch sprint.

OVO Energy Women’s Tour stage 2 results:

1. Amy Pieters (Boels-Dolmans) 03:49:42

2. Hannah Barnes (Canyon-Sram) ST

3. Ellen Van Dijk (Sunweb) ST

28. Gracie Elvin (ORICA-SCOTT) +0:10

General Classification after stage 2:

1. Kasia Niewiadoma (WM3) 07:41:11

2. Marianne Vos (WM3) +1:46

3. Hannah Barnes (Canyon-Sram) ST


Photos courtesy of ©