Spratt remains in contention after the penultimate stage of the Aviva Women's Tour

Sat 18 Jun 2016

Australian champion Amanda Spratt finished in the front group on the penultimate stage of the Aviva Women's Tour today to maintain her high position in the general classification.

The 119km stage saw a late breakaway attempt swallowed up just before the line, concluding with a reduced bunch sprint into Stoke-on-Trent.

Marianne Vos (Rabo-Liv) accurately timed her effort to take the victory and ten bonus seconds, causing her to jump up one place above Spratt overall.

Spratt, along with teammate Gracie Elvin, once again showed their top form today, both making it into a final select group that established over the tough Queen of the Mountain sprints. 

"Today was super fast all day from the start," explain Elvin after the stage. "There were a lot of teams interested in getting a break up the road today including us."

"We were trying to look for a good move like yesterday with Spratty, but nothing was getting away. I guess it was too fast and too many riders were interested.

"There were a couple of big crashes and it was generally nervous, but it was once we hit the climbs after 90kilometres the race really split up. Riders were really aggressive on the climbs and a group of four managed to get away on the second QOM." 

Finishing the stage outside the top ten, Elvin showed her dissapointment with the result but remained postive with another chance tomorrow.

"Spratty and myself decided to just sit in and let the other girls do the work," Elvin continued. "We had to gamble that it would come back and not spend all our energy with the chase, which is not always an easy thing to do." 

"In the end I didn't choose the right wheels and the little kicker in the last kilometre really hurt me after hurting all day in the climbs. I stuffed up in the sprint which I'm disappointed about but I just didn't have the legs today in the final. 

"Everyone in the team did great, everyone pitched in, it was a great team effort overall. Alexandra Manly is riding really well for a young rider, she did lots today and so did the other two girls. 

"Tomorrow is another day and Spratty is riding awesome again, so we are looking forward to it." 

How it happened:

The riders began the penultimate stage in Nottingham and to their relief it was another dry day. The stage profile presented another hilly route with most of the climbs coming within the final 40kilometres of the stage. 

The race kicked off aggressively with a flurry of attacks but with it all to play for and a fairly close general classification competition, no teams were willing to let a group go away.  

After the second intermediate sprint the peloton split up and a large crash occurred causing chaos in the bunch. Elvin was caught up but luckily didn't come down.

Emilia Fahlin (Ale-Cipollini) was the next aggressive rider, attacking at a well-timed moment to jump away to over one minute in the blink of an eye.

The peloton seemed happy for the solo rider to break free, knowing the difficult section of the race was still to come. Fahlin continued to work hard and established a maximum advantage of two minutes.

As the race approached the final stages two Queen of the mountain primes came within close succession of each other, at 93km and 98km, creating fireworks within the peloton. 

On the second QOM, three riders in yesterday's final breakaway, Lizzie Armitstead (Boels-Dolmans), Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio (Cervelo-Bigla) and Elisa Longo-Borgini (Wiggle-High5), broke away and unfortunately for ORICA-AIS Spratt was out of position and missed the move. Emma Johansson was instantly on to it and jumped straight across creating a leading group of four as Fahlin had been reeled back in.

With less than 20kilometres to go the situation stood with the four lead riders hovering around 30seconds ahead of a chasing group of twelve riders including Spratt and Elvin.

The ORICA-AIS duo decided to take a risk and limit their losses by sitting in, expecting the leaders to come back. With just three kilometres left the gap was down to just 10seconds.

On a fast, mainly downhill run in to the finish, the escapees were eventually swallowed up in the final kilometre.

Vos timed the sprint to perfection claiming the victory with Spratt the highest placed for ORICA-AIS in 13th place. The result keeps her well in contention on the general classification, now sitting in fifth place 17seconds behind the race leader.

Tomorrow, the final stage consists of undulating rolling roads, but with the potential for another sprint stage to conclude the tour.

Aviva Women's Tour stage 4 results:

1. Marianne Vos (Rabo-Liv) 3:07:00
2. Leah Kirchmann (Liv-Plantur) ST
3. Emma Johansson (Wiggle-High5) ST
13. Amanda Spratt (ORICA-AIS) ST

General classification after stage 4:

1. Lizzie Armitstead (Boels-Dolmans) 13:02:56
2. Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio (Cervelo-Bigla) +0:08
3. Elisa Longo-Borgini (Wiggle-High5) +0:10
5. Amanda Spratt (ORICA-AIS) +0:17