Emma Johansson started the first stage of the Friends Life Women’s Tour in the yellow race leader’s jersey. By the end of stage two, she had slipped to fourth overall. A two rider breakaway stayed away to contest the stage with Rossella Ratto (Estado de Mexico Faren Kuota) edging out Susanna Zorzi (Astana Be Pink) in the sprint in Bedford.
With the stage win, Ratto earned ten bonus seconds to assume the race lead ahead of Zorzi. Marianne Vos (Rabobank Liv) led the bunch home to round out the stage podium. Bonus seconds from the first intermediate sprint and on the finish line allowed Vos to leapfrog Johansson on the overall classification by 1”.
Silvia Valsecchi (Astana BePink) instigated the early action, slipping clear of the bunch before the first YodelDirect intermediate sprint. The lone leader gained nearly a minute by kilometre 25 and stayed away to scoop up the first three bonus seconds on offer at the sprint line. Lizzie Armitstead (Boels-Dolmans) took the hard-fought sprint for second while Vos settled for third. With thirty six kilometres completed, Valsecchi was back in the bunch.
Ratto jumped up the road at the mid-point of the stage, following the first Strava QOM. She quickly gained a slim advantage over the peloton, who seemed happy to give her a green light to stay up the road. Ten kilometres later, with the second Strava QOM looming, the real aggression began in the bunch.
Wiggle Honda took up the chase, bringing Ratto back within striking distance. Susanna Zorzi (Astana BePink) took advantage of the shrinking gap, accelerating out of the bunch and across to Ratto. The two leaders cooperated well and the advantage ballooned out to 2’20 by the second intermediate sprint. Ratto and Zorzi ate up bonus seconds for first and second across the line. Armitstead took 1” from the bunch for third in the sprint.
Twenty kilometres from the finish, with the breakaway at two minutes, ORICA-AIS sent Edmondson and Shara Gillow to the front. Boels-Dolmans and Rabobank-Liv responded in kind, each committing two riders to the chase. Whilst the gap tumbled in response to the injection in pace, it was a big ask to shut down the move before the line. Ratto and Zorzi crossed the line 6” ahead of the reduced peloton. Johansson finished ninth in the bunch for 11th place on the stage.
“I believe we came out of the race in good nick although we lost the jersey. The time gaps conceded today are minor, and the team comes out in very reasonable shape. Even though it’s a minor disappointment not to hang onto the jersey, from a perspective of the full five days, we’re satisfied with where we find things at this time.” - Sport Director Martin Barras
“I don’t think losing the jersey is necessarily a bad thing. We now have a bit more freedom to race again. It’s a totally different thing to defend a jersey than to ride for one, so I think we’re looking at some interesting racing in the next three days.” - Emma Johansson
|1||Rossella Ratto (Ita) - Estado de Mexico Faren||3:02:02|
|2||Susanna Zorzi (Ita) - Astana Bepink womens team||ST|
|3||Marianne Vos (Ned) - Rabo Liv women cycling team||0:00:06|
|4||Amy Pieters (Ned) - Netherlands||ST|
|5||Lucy Garner (GBr) - Great Britain||ST|
|6||Giorgia Bronzini (Ita) - Wiggle Honda||ST|
|7||Lizzie Armitstead (GBr) - Boels Dolmans cycling team||ST|
|8||Aurore Verhoeven (Fra) - Lointek||ST|
|9||Aude Biannic (Fra) - Lointek||ST|
|10||Chloe Hosking (Aus) - Hitec products||ST|
|11||Emma Johansson (Swe) - ORICA-AIS||0:00:06|
|31||Gracie Elvin (Aus) - ORICA-AIS||ST|
|39||Loes Gunnewijk (Ned) - ORICA-AIS||ST|
|50||Shara Gillow (Aus) - ORICA-AIS||ST|
|64||Valentina Scandolara (Ita) - ORICA-AIS||0:00:41|
|79||Annette Edmondson (Aus) - ORICA-AIS||0:01:36|