Lizzie Armitstead powered to an emotional victory in Chesterfield at the end of the third stage of the Aviva Women’s Tour, outsprinting a trio of breakaway companions to move into the Aviva Yellow Jersey of race leader with two stages remaining.
The reigning World Road Race Champion crossed the line pointing to the sky, dedicating her win in Derbyshire to the memory of Jo Cox, the Birstall MP who was murdered yesterday.
Armitstead crossed the line clear of second placed Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio to now enjoy a five second lead over the Cervelo Bigla rider on the Aviva General Classification, with overnight leader Marianne Vos leading the bunch in for fifth, 36-seconds down.
The Boels Dolmans rider had led Moolman-Pasio and Wiggle HIGH5’s Elisa Longo Borghini across to the day’s breakaway group, catching the group of 11-riders shortly after the Strava Queen of the Mountains climb of Bank Road in Matlock.
Those eleven, who went clear after the feed zone and around 47-kilometres of racing, included the likes of Hannah Barnes, Chantal Blaak and Australian national champion Amanda Spratt, who went on to finish fourth.
Post Race media conference with Katie Hall Queen of the Mountains at the end of Stage 3 of the AVIVA Womens Tour 2016. #AVIVA2016
While the break were working well together, they were powerless to stop the pursuit of Armitstead, Moolman-Pasio and Longo Borghini, with the trio making the junction after the summit of Bank Road having gone clear on the flatter valley roads following the Chain Reaction Cycles Sprint at Darley Dale.
Having missed the move, Vos and her Rabo Liv team chased hard, but with around 15-kilometres to go Armitstead attacked again, at first joined by just Moolman-Pasio before Longo Borghini and Spratt also made the junction.
The quartet worked well to hold off the chasing Rabo Liv, whose pursuit saw the remnants of the breakaway caught, allowing them to contest the finish in Chesterfield’s Market Place, with Armitstead leading out the sprint to take victory, her second ever stage win in the Aviva Women’ Tour.
Behind Vos outsprinted Armitstead’s Boels Dolmans teammate Amalie Dideriksen for fifth, ahead of Leah Kirchmann and Giorgia Bronzini.
In addition to the Aviva Yellow Jersey and a five second lead overall, Armitstead also retained the Adnams Best British Rider Jersey, with Dani King her nearest challenger in that competition, 47-seconds back in 15th overall.
Despite losing yellow Marianne Vos retains the Chain Reaction Cycles Points Jersey, 11-points clear of Stage One winner Christine Majerus,
with Vos’ compatriot Floortje Maackaij holding a 34-second lead in the Best Young Rider classification presented by Stoke-on-Trent, European City of Sport.
Armitstead: Going into the race our plan was we wanted a girl in the front group and I would jump across on that climb [Bank Road, Matlock].
We knew Moolman [Ashleigh] would probably be aggressive, cos she has been in previous races and shes got a kick. So we expected her to launch an attack. I didn’t expect it to go from the bottom! But she did.
I had a good lead-out from Ellen [Van Dyke] and Christine [Majerus] right into the bottom of the climb, so I was really well positioned.
I didn’t follow Ashleigh’s attack initially because I thought if I follow that acceleration, I’d blow-up.
I knew from peoples advice that it was a long steep climb, so I held them at twenty metres and crawled my way back up to them and got over the top with them. Then it was a bit of a slog to get up to the breakaway.
When I arrived, Chantal [Blaak] did some more work on the front and took us as far as she could.
I attacked them to bring the strongest girls in the race away, that was the idea!
Having been in the day’s 11-rider move, Katie Hall led the race across both Strava Queen of the Mountains climbs at Winster and Matlock to take a 14-point lead over Ilona Hoeksma.
For full results and standings following Stage Three, please click here.
Stage Four sees the penultimate stage of the Aviva Women’s Tour head from Nottingham to Stoke-on-Trent, which is celebrating its status as European City of Sport for 2016. The stage departs from Nottingham’s Old Market Square passing via Swadlincote, Burton-upon-Trent and Uttoxeter before a run through the hills of the Staffordshire Moorlands to finish in Stoke-on-Trent city centre.
For more information on Stage Four, please click here.
Amateur cyclists can also ride part of the Aviva Women’s Tour route this year in the Tour Ride Northamptonshire, the official sportive of the Aviva Women’s Tour. Taking place one month after the final stage, on Sunday 17 July, 40 and 80-mile routes starting and finishing from Delapre Abbey in Northampton will take place using sections of the Stage Five route, while there is also a fun, off-road 10-mile route for families. To sign-up head to www.tourride.co.uk
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