Aviva Women’s Tour Stage Four Report

All images ©www.chrismaher.co.uk / CyclingShorts.cc

 

Lisa Brennauer sprinted back into the Aviva Yellow Jersey at the end of Stage Four of the Aviva Women’s Tour in Stevenage, as the peloton swept up a two-rider breakaway inside the final kilometre.

The World Time Trial Champion now holds a nine second lead in the race into tomorrow’ decisive stage between Marlow and Hemel Hempstead, which offers up probably the most demanding terrain of the week and possibility for breakaway success in what has been a furiously ridden race.

The German rider from the Velocio SRAM team had led the chase into Stevenage of a very high quality break in the last quarter of the race featuring European Under-23 Road Race champion Sabrina Stultiens and the dangerous Italian Elisa Longo Borghini, who won the Ronde Van Vlaanderen World Cup round earlier this year with a spectacular 33km break.

That duo were much too dangerous to allow any significant leeway when they went hard with 25km to go and Brennauer and her team, as well as Boels Dolmans riding for overnight race leader Christine Majerus immediately moved to the front to control matters.

The break’s advantage reached almost one minute with just under 20-kilometres to go, but were steadily pegged back as the peloton rode with controlled pace in wet and slippery conditions.  As they turned to take the flame route at one kilometre to go the game was up and the sprint teams started to organise themselves but Brennauer has shown a rare turn of speed this week and powered through in trademark fashion ahead of Emma Johansson and Finnish National Champion Lotta Lepistö, with the Aviva Yellow Jersey of Majerus in fourth.

Interview – Yellow Jersey – Lisa Brennauer Stage 4 Aviva Women’s Tour by Cycling Shorts

Lisa Brennauer of Team Velocio SRAM talks to the media as she regains the Yellow Jersey in the penultimate stage of the Aviva Women’s Tour 2015.

“When the rain came I knew it would be tricky but I went around the final corners safely and chose a good wheel in Emma Johansson and came off from there,” said Brennauer. “The chase was difficult because of the undulating course and the quality of the riders up the road and I wasn’t quite sure we would see them again before the finish.

“It’s going to be an exciting day and it is so close that there are seconds on the road that everybody will fight for before the final finish but me and my team are going to do our best to bring this jersey home now that we have it back. We raced very well today as a team and that will give us confidence for the final day. Our morale is very good. We have had a rider on the podium of every stage. The spirit is good and that is a very good way to start the final stage.”

Britain’s Hannah Barnes, finishing the Aviva Women’s Tour strongly, rode well for her second consecutive top five place on the day to move up to fifth place overall, taking over from Lucy Garner as both the Premier Inn Best British Rider and SweetSpot Best Young Rider (Under-23).

Hannah Barnes Interview – Stage 4 Aviva Womens Tour 2015 by Cycling Shorts

Hannah Barnes of Team UnitedHealthcare talks post Stage 4 of the Aviva Womens Tour 2015 about her race and about taking the U23 Jersey and the Best British Rider.

“It was a crazy finish, very technical in the last 10km and then it started raining on top of that,” said Barnes. “We drove the last 12km of the finish on the Friday night going to our hotel and you could see difficult it was going to be.

“I knew there would be splits and time gaps at the finish so I tried to stay at the front. It all split on the last KOM and about 30 of us went up the road then the break went. The last 10km were very narrow and two riders were away but with the rain nobody particularly wanted to take up the chase and then it was far from a straight finish.

“I wasn’t really happy with my form when I arrived back from the USA last week, it didn’t feel there, but I do usually go better towards the end of a stage race and that is what has happened this week. For me it’s more about confidence more than anything. If I go into a race confident I will perform and the last three days that confidence has returned and I’ve been pretty consistent.”

Barnes has been largely based in the USA for the first half of the season but after this Aviva Women’s Tour she is planning a big training block in Girona before returning to the States where she is targeting the Tour of Utah and the Tour of Colorado, races in which she hopes to make a strong case for Great Britain selection at the World Championships at Richmond, Virginia in September.

Despite the efforts of Brennauer’s Velocio SRAM teammate Elise Delzenne, Orica AIS rider Melissa Hoskins continues to lead the Strava Queen of the Mountains jersey, but by just two points, and with the GC ambitions of her teammate Johansson the priority.

Melissa Hoskins Interview – Stage 4 Aviva Womens Tour 2015 by Cycling Shorts

Current Queen of the Mountains Jersey Holder Melissa Hoskins of Team Orica AIS talks to the media post stage 4 of the Aviva Women”s Tour 2015.

“I would probably be the last name you would expect to see leading the Queen of the Mountains. It just sort of happened. The first day as a team if you are near the mark when you come to the first QoM you go for it, take the points. You can get in a jersey and that is always great o this kind of tour.

“I ended up taking some points on the first QoM and then on the second day I thought I’d have a crack and see if I can get the jersey which I did. And what started as a bit of a joke and a bit of a play out on the road turned into something a little bit more serious and I started becoming attached to the polka dot!

“Tomorrow’s stage sounds a bit horrific, I’ve got my work cut out, but at the end of the day we are here to help Emma in the GC so my 100% commitment will be towards here. And all this week in between the QoMs my priority has been getting her in to the sprint. We are here for a bigger picture and that is Emma and the yellow jersey.

“The stage is going to blow apart, there is no question about that. There is going to be some big time gaps. Emma’s got the form and there are a few girls behind her looking to get away on a break. It’s going to be a very aggressive race and it will be interesting to see how some of the sprinters handle the hills. Emma is climbing well, she’s always on the mark and there’s no question she can win it.”

Brennauer, who also holds the Chain Reaction Cycles Points Jersey, enjoys a nine-second leader over Majerus, with Stage Two winner Jolien D’hoore just a further second back.  In total all of the top fourteen remain within 30-seconds of the Aviva Yellow Jersey going into the final stage from Marlow to Hemel Hempstead, a 102.6km leg from the banks of the River Thames through the Chiltern Hills.

Stage 4 Results

Stage4

 

 

GC after Stage 4

stage4GC

U23: Hannah Barnes

Best British: Hannah Barnes

Points: Lisa Brennauer

Queen of the Mountains: Melissa Hoskins

Team: Boels Dolmans Cycling Team

 

Highlights of Stage Four are on ITV4 at 8pm on Saturday 20 June with a repeat at 11.10am on Sunday 21 June and will be available on the ITV Player for 30-days after broadcast.

 

Stage 5 – the Aviva Women’s Tour Finale – Sunday 21st June, Marlow to Hemel Hempstead.

AvivaWT_Stage5_Map-1

 

Useful Links…

Twitter www.twitter.com/thewomenstour    Event Hashtag #AvivaWT2015

Facebook www.facebook.com/thewomenstour

Instagram www.instagram.com/thetourcycling

YouTube www.youtube.com/thetourcycling

Aviva Women’s Tour Women’s Tour

For full Stage Four results and standings click here.

 

 

 

The Sufferfest Sponsors UCI Women’s World Cup & Introduces ‘The Suffer Prize’

INTRODUCTION OF ‘THE SUFFER PRIZE’ TELLS STORIES
OF EPIC SUFFERING IN EACH ROUND OF WORLD CUP
The Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) is pleased to announce that The Sufferfest will be the Official Sponsor of the UCI Women’s Road World Cup in 2015.

A leading producer of indoor training videos, The Sufferfest has been a sponsor of the UCI since 2010 and of the UCI Women Road World Cup since 2014. It produces highly effective and engaging training videos using footage of professional races, including UCI events.

This year, the UCI and The Sufferfest will step up their collaboration by introducing a unique, new award for the UCI Women’s Road World Cup. At the end of each round of the World Cup, The Suffer Prize presented by The Sufferfest will be awarded to the rider who demonstrated particular determination, courage and suffering to help a teammate, to animate the race or simply to get to the finish line against the odds.

The judging panel will be made up of the TV production team, the Chief Commissaire, the Race Director and the UCI. The concept was extremely well received by riders and team representatives at the UCI Women’s Teams seminar in early March.

“This award is not necessarily about winning the race, but about the Sufferlandrian values of pushing yourself beyond what you thought yourself capable of,” explained The Sufferfest’s Chief Suffering Officer, David McQuillen. He added: “Women’s professional racing is incredibly difficult and tells inspiring stories of effort, sacrifice and resilience. We want to share these stories and The Suffer Prize presented by The Sufferfest is our way of showing how outstanding these athletes are.”

At the end of the season, The Sufferlandrian community will have the chance to vote for the Epic Moment of Suffering experienced by one of the winners of the Suffer Prize. The final winner will receive a $1,000 USD cash prize.

UCI President Brian Cookson commented: “The UCI Women’s Road World Cup is a magnificent showcase for women’s cycling, and I am delighted that The Sufferfest will again be supporting the series in 2015 with this incredibly unique prize. This is a demonstration of their esteem for this exciting and increasingly popular discipline.”

UCI Vice-President, Tracey Gaudry also welcomed the news: “As a former professional cyclist I have witnessed many inspiring demonstrations of courage and gritty determination within the professional women’s peloton. I am delighted that, together with The Sufferfest, we will be able to highlight some of these amazing stories.”

Winners of The Suffer Prize presented by The Sufferfest will be communicated via social media (@UCIWomenCycling & @TheSufferfest). In addition, news and highlights of the races – including an interview with The Suffer Prize presented by The Sufferfest winner – will also be available on the UCI YouTube channel (www.tv.uci.ch) throughout the season.

As the UCI Official Sponsor of the 2015 Women Road World Cup, the Sufferfest will enjoy visibility throughout the season, having kicked off with the Boels Rental Ronde van Drenthe in Holland. The winner of The Suffer Prize on that occasion was Orica-AIS rider Lizzie Williams (pictured above), who crashed twice, chased back to the pack twice and then broke her rear derailleur and had to give up, having no further spare bike.

This initiative complements other activities resulting from the collaboration between the UCI and The Sufferfest. For example, registrations are now being received for the first week-long training camp open to the public at the UCI headquarters in Switzerland in June.

 

More information is available on The Sufferfest website. 

LIZZIE WILLIAMS OF ORICA-AIS

WINNER OF THE FIRST
SUFFER PRIZE PRESENTED BY THE SUFFERFEST
Williams crashed twice and had twomechanicals. She twice battled her way back from the caravan to the bunch before ultimately withdrawing because she was out of bikes to ride. Not only that, after she completed her interview for The Suffer Prize, she discovered that her team had left without her and shewas forced to find her own way home.”It was probably the worst day on the bike that I’ve ever had, but you have to take the good with the bad in this sport. I had a bad day and hopefully tomorrow will be sunshine and no crashes. You’ve got to get back. You can’t give up. If you’re going to give up, you might as well not be here. I’ve come all the way from Australia. I’m not going to give up just because I have a tumble. I got to the front and hit the cobbles tenth wheel, feeling really positive, and 500 metres later myderallieur broke off and snapped into my back wheel. That was the end of my day. I had no bikes left. I had two bikes and they were both broken.” 

 

Girona Gran Fondo – A Grand Affair

Stepping out into the heart of the Catalan town in the northern region of Spain after a 2 hour direct flight from a London airport, it’s not hard to see why Girona is considered home and chosen training ground to a number of professional cyclists. Hidden in the maze of medieval buildings of buzzing restaurants and bars lies Bike Breaks Girona, a bike rental, cycling holidays and guided cycling center which quickly became my home for the week of the Girona Gran Fondo festival.

Girona Ride Neil Martin

Being lead-out into the moutains by Neil ©HayleyDavies

With three packages to choose from, there was plenty to get involved in throughout the week.  Daily rides from the shop lead by Neil Martin, ex-professional and Olympian, otherwise known as “Dan Martin’s Dad”,  welcome dinner, a nocturne, timed hill-climb, massage, pasta party and the concluding 125km Gran Fondo, the Gold group was clearly the place to be.

I can’t say Girona would have been my first cycling holiday of choice, however I was quickly shown why it should be. Within 5 -10 minutes of cycling out from the shop, we were onto quiet, pot-hole-free rolling roads into the countryside. Ask for a ‘flat ride’ and you’ll get an evil chuckle back. Nestled halfway between the Pyrenees and the beaches of the Costa Brava, flat doesn’t exist here. Not much of a climber, it took me a day or so to find my legs, but it wasn’t long before I too was enjoying the 10km climbs. I can’t thank the ride guides enough for the support throughout with local road knowledge (warnings of climbs or how long before a coffee stop), motor pacing me back on when I was dropped on climbs, and helping me make the most of the descents at speed.

On our second shop ride, we were treated to some special guests, local professional riders Marc de Maar (UHC), Sharon Laws (UHC), Lucy Martin (Estado de Mexico), Carlee Taylor (Orica-AIS) and  Loren Rowney (Specialized Lululemon) who were happy to share their training route to the coast. This wasn’t the last time we would see them either, volunteering their time to marshal the nocturne and the Gran Fondo.

 

‘You will see the angel!’

Els Angels Hill Climb

‘You will see the Angel!’ ©HayleyDavies

Unlike many cycling holidays or training camps, the festival also allowed some competitive battles. The timed hill climb on Thursday morning was a tough 11km climb up to Els Angels. The hottest day of the week so far, the ascent of 404m was tough… for those competing (yes, I chickened out!). But with a Tag Heuer watch on offer, there was a lot to compete for. Setting off in 2 minute  intervals, the men’s winner Raul Castello Garcia (Bike Esplugues) beat local favourite and bike lead Neil Martin by 32 sceonds, finishing in an astounding 22 minutes and 16 seconds. Adel Tyson-Bloor, English national rider for Mulebar-Girl Sigma Sport was pipped to gold by Katrina Grove in 26 minutes and 2 seconds. Was it worth the climb? For the pasta party at the top over-looking the Pyrenees and the coast, it certainly was.

 

The rescheduled on Thursday night nocturne (postponed on Tuesday night due to a storm – thankfully reducing the humidity), was quite possibly one of the hardest things I’ve ridden. Not your usual nocturne format, only 300m of the 2.5km course was timed. However, this 300m section also happened to have an average gradient of 7.4% (with a steeper section of 12%). And as if that wasn’t challenging enough, it was cobbled! With recovery between timed sections riders were able to take the 10 laps at their own pace, although it wasn’t long before I was lapped. This was truly a unique experience, not only for the cyclists who took part, but the locals too, who had all taken to the streets, including Garmin-Sharp’s David Millar to cheer us on, and Lucy Martin, Sharon Laws and Loren Rowney handing out water and energy products as well as words of encouragement at the top of each timed section. I don’t think I would have completed the 10 climbs if it hadn’t have been for the cheers!

Girona Gran Fondo

Enjoying the views from another false-flat ©HayleyDavies

The week came to a close on Saturday, following Friday night pre-race drinks, with the Gran Fondo. Along with 200 other cyclists all wearing the commemorative jerseys, we really were treated to a tour of the region. We were sent out into the Garrotxa region, famous for its prehistoric volcanic activity – this says it all – climbing a total of 2000m over 125km, majority of which happened in the first 60km, making it a tough start to the day. Once we’d broken the ascending barrier however, we were treated to corn and sunflower fields, panoramic views, woodlands and some fantastic winding descents, accompanied and guided by our very own police escort. Although it was a challenging route, the beauty and serenity of the area made it worth the exertion. Rolling across the finish line with two others after 5h20 in the saddle (just under 2 hours behind the fastest man, Neil Martin), we were treated to well-deserved medals, a BBQ and beers.

This had been a truly unique week. It’s not often you’re ride-guided by professionals, treated to some fun competitive events with lucrative prizes and get to meet and mingle with so many other cyclists in what is truly a beautiful area perfect for cycling. And although I write this with 500km and 7200m of climbing in my legs, I can’t wait to get back there next year.

To find out more and to keep an eye on dates for next year, check out http://www.gironagranfondo.com/ or follow @bikebreaks.

 

Our rides:

With thanks to:

BikeBox Online Windsor for rental of a BikeBox Alan

The Windsor Bike Company for loan of a Garmin bike computer

Osmo Nutrition for fueling me through the week

 

Hayley Davies

Hayley Davies

Writer

Riding since Feb 2011 Hayley is a 30 year old female who loves adventures. If she’s not on one of her many bikes or in the water on a bodyboard/surfboard, then Hayley is probably out looking for something new to keep the adrenaline pumping!
Website: www.hjdonline.co.uk

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