Emma Johansson Rounds Out the Podium on Bira Stage ThreeSat 14 Jun 2014
Pauline Ferrand Prevot (Rabobank-Liv) soloed to victory on the third stage of Emakueen Euskal Bira. In doing so, she took back the yellow jersey that her teammate Marianne Vos had taken from her following stage two. The overnight race leader led home a group of nine chasers that had split from a larger chase group that formed over the mid-stage category two climb. ORICA-AIS’ Emma Johansson sprinted in for third place, her second consecutive podium, 1’44 behind Ferrand Prevot and two seconds down on Vos.
Valentina Scandolara animated the first half of the stage, attacking out of the peloton and inspiring the day’s early breakaway. The Italian combined forces with Lucinda Brand (Rabobank-Liv) and Emma Pooley (Lotto Belisol). The three riders collaborated well together until their catch.
The mid-stage category two climb proved decisive, shattering the peloton and serving as the backdrop for the front group’s formation. Seventeen riders reached the summit with a small gap over the chasers in their wake. Down the descent, the leaders solidified their advantage.
When Pooley attacked, Vos jumped to mark the move. When Vos had joined forces with Pooley, Ferrand-Prevot accelerated away from the bunch. She briefly caught the two leaders before passing them, pedaling furiously toward the finish. Shara Gillow led the chase to the lone leader, but without a collective effort from the group, Ferrand-Prevot’s gap ballooned out beyond two minutes, coming down only slightly before the finish line.
COMMENTS FROM SPORT DIRECTOR GENE BATES
The race had a lumpy start today with lots of little uncategorized hills. Like yesterday, the attacks began immediately. There were quite a few of them, and we were amongst all the action. Valentina put herself into a really well-represented move that was caught coming into the category two climb at around 45 kilometres.
Right from the bottom of the climb, the race blew to bits. Over the top, there was a group that contained all the overall contenders. We had Emma in the move, and Shara was just off the back of it.
As the group went down the descent, they gained a bit more time, and I think they had almost a minute on what was left of a very battered bunch with 40 kilometres left to race. Their lead was hanging in balance at that point.
Pooley was the first to attack out of that group, and Vos chased her down. As soon as Vos caught Pooley, Pauline attacked over the top of her and got a gap straightaway. Shortly after that, Shara made contact with the group.
There were other teams in what had become the first chase group that had more representation and more to gain than us. We expected that they would work with us to bring Pauline back, and I was really surprised that it didn’t happen. Although there were several riders that attacked in an attempt to bridge across, they weren’t interested in collaborating in the chase. Without a collective, concerted effort, Pauline soloed to the finish.
We were a bit disappointed with the tactics today. It seemed like a couple of other teams were just resigned to racing for second as soon as Rabobank got on the front foot. From our perspective, you have to risk losing to win. We always want to be amongst the action, and it sometimes seems like other teams are happy to race more conservatively to protect a minor place on the overall. From what I could see, no one was interested in going for the stage or challenging for the overall today.
We’re looking forward to the final stage tomorrow – and we’ll have the same approach as we have had the last couple days. Look for us to be super aggressive. We’ve got nothing to lose, and we’re going to give everything for a stage win.