Melissa Hoskins Second on Stage Four of Route de FranceWed 7 Aug 2013
Melissa Hoskins sprinted her way to second on what was a pan flat finish for stage four of Route de France. In déjà vu style, the fast woman from Italy, Giorgia Bronzini (Wiggle Honda) was first across the line once again to record a historic fourth consecutive stage win at Route de France. With zero bonus time at intermediate sprints or at the finish, Emma Johansson remains in the orange leader’s jersey with three days to go.
In what was the longest stage of the tour, the peloton was greeted with a tailwind at the start. From the gun the pace was high. In the first hour of racing, the average speed was 46kph due in part to the tailwind and in part to the aggressiveness of the peloton.
Attacks were launched left and right but nothing could escape the clutches of the highly charged peloton.
“A lot of teams were on top of bringing any moves back,” said Hoskins. “It made for some fast racing. It was a lot different than the other days when we had a headwind.”
Eventually at the mid point of the race, the pace settled down and racing continued uneventfully until 10km to go when a lone rider slipped off the front.
“Being so close to the finish, quite a few teams collaborated to bring back [Aizhan] Zhaparova (Russia),” said Sport Director Brian Stephens. “The peloton was back together with 2km to go.”
Prior to Zhaparova launching her solo move, ORICA-AIS had appointed Hoskins as the leader for the fast, slight downhill finish.
“With 15km to go, we made the decision that I would sprint,” Hoskins continued. “The girls kept me out of trouble, and we managed to get me close to the win.”
Being so close to the win is often times hard to process, but Hoskins is happy to have come so close to Bronzini who has taken this tour by storm.
“Any podium is awesome,” said Hoskins. “For me personally, it’s a confidence boost. I haven’t had many chances to sprint this year so I was nervous. It’s been awhile since I’ve had a shot at the finish. I’ve done it so irregularly, but the team was fantastic.”
“When you’re so close, you think of all the little things you could have done differently,” added Hoskins. “Bronzini is in a league of her own at the moment, so we’ll have to come up with something different to beat her.”
Stage wins are important for the team, but with three stages left in the tour, ORICA-AIS has its sights set on a much bigger prize.
“Right now winning the overall is our priority,” said Hoskins. “We will go for stage wins with other riders when we can, but first we want to bring home the jersey.”