Van Vleuten maintains the race lead as Williams moves to second overall after stage 3 Emakumeen BiraMon 21 May 2018
New Zealand champion Georgia Williams made it into today's stage three winning breakaway for Mitchelton-SCOTT to jump up to second place overall behind yesterday's stage winner Annemiek van Vleuten, who retains the race lead in Emakumeen Bira.
A breakaway of nine riders successfully stayed away to the finish line with Amy Pieters (Boels-Dolmans) coming out on top, taking the stage win as Williams sprinted in for ninth place.
Mitchelton-SCOTT move into a strong position going in to tomorrow's final stage, now sitting first and second overall but with just a slender 12second advantage over third place Anna van der Breggen (Boels-Dolmans).
The bunch splits
Due to heavy undulating roads and harsh weather conditions, the peloton split significantly as the riders headed towards the second classified climb of the day, and the front group whittled down to around 20riders.
After the second GPM, the pace dropped slightly and chasing riders were able to rejoin the front of the race, but there wasn't much respite as the action continued and shortly after the main breakaway of the day formed.
Williams makes the break
With 50kilometres to go, Williams made it in a small but strong breakaway selection and the group quickly opened up a four minute advantage over the peloton.
Williams was the highest placed rider on the general classification in the group, which meant Mitchelton-SCOTT where happy to let the leaders gain time and with many team represented, there was no real chase from behind.
Race lead in danger
With 30kilometres to go, Pauline Roojakkers (WaowDeals) put Mitchelton-SCOTT under pressure as she jumped away from the breakaway group and led the race by 50seconds, this meant she sat as the virtual race leader on the road for the final 20kilometres of the stage.
Teams felt the danger and eventually the group closed in on the solo leader and the catch was made with just four kilometres to go. Williams sprinted to ninth place with Mitchelon-SCOTT now with three riders inside the top ten overall as Amanda Spratt also sits in ninth place overall.
Georgia Williams - 2nd overall
"The plan was for me to cover any moves after the 60km mark. I was lucky with the move that I got into as I was the rider that was placed highest on GC.
"The time gap got out to four minutes at one point and that was when sport director Gene Bates gave me the call to ride hard as nothing was happening in the peloton and I was going to be able to take the GC lead.
"With 15km to go I sat on the front and rode as hard as I could to the finish to try put as much time into the chasing bunch. I gave it everything and wasn’t sure what the time gap was when I crossed the line. It would have been nice to wear the leaders jersey but second on GC is still really cool for me and at least the jersey is still in the team.
"I had nothing left for the sprint finish, I put everything into taking time on the peloton."
Emakumeen Bira stage 3 results:
1. Amy Pieters (Boels-Dolmans) 3:02
2. Emilia Fahlin (Wiggle-High5) ST
3. Clara Koppenburg (Cervelo-Bigla) ST
9. Georgia Williams (Mitchelton-SCOTT) +0:04
General classificaton after stage 3:
1. Annemiek van Vleuten (Mitchelton-SCOTT) 6:29:38
2. Georgia Williams (Mitchelton-SCOTT) +0:03
3. Anna van der Breggen (Boels-Dolmans) +0:12
Photo courtesy of Getty Images