Tough weather conditions hit stage three down under.
The penultimate stage of the Santos Women's Tour Down Under kicked off from The Bend Motorsport Park with all eyes on the tough finish up to Hahndorf which would define the podium places in this years’ race, with only a criterium in Adelaide to finish tomorrow.
The changeable weather continued as the riders lined up on the race track which is situation in 100km outside of Adelaide, without much shelter. The conditions resembled something out of the Tour of Qatar rather than the Australian weather we’ve come to expect.
Stage Three would be the longest stage in this year’s Santos Tour Down Under, at 122.4km. It was evident from the windy conditions and long open roads that there would be potential for echelons and aggressive racing throughout the stage.
The opening section of the race saw just that, the peloton would continually split, then regroup, then split; the constant head/cross wind was causing havoc.
The last 50km of the race were the toughest, the road gradually rising towards the main climb in the finish town of Hahndorf. Linda Villumsen (VirtuCycling) broke-away from the peloton with approximately 45km to go. No team seemed particularly keen to chase and we were happy to see how the race panned out, anticipating a reaction from Mitchelton-Scott and Uni SA, who held the podium positions.
The key moment in the stage came just after the feed zone in Kanmantoo. Mitchelton-Scott went on the attack, forming an echelon which had two of our team present. This quickly dissolved and defending champion Amanda Spratt (Mitchelton-Scott) and podium hopeful Lauren Stephen (Cylance), attacked from the peloton in pursuit of solo leader Villumsen, who built up a lead of over 5 minutes at one point.
The pair was to gain a big advantage over the main field, catching and passing Villumsen in the process. As soon as Villumsen was absorbed back into the main peloton, Grace Brown (Holden-Gusto) attacked, Molly followed and the pair had a small gap. It was clear that Brown wanted to be solo as she attacked Molly on one of the climbs. After the efforts that Molly had done for the team earlier in stage and the previous two stages, her energy was low and couldn’t follow the wheel.
With it looking likely that the top three places were secure, attention turned to setting Kathrin and Ab upi in good positions for the final climb up to Hahndorf. The final ascent was tough, hitting 17% in some places, a touch of Belgian classics climbs down under. The gruelling finish to the line saw Kathrin finish in 14th place. Further ahead, Amanda Spratt (Mitchelton-Scott) outsprinted Stephens (Cylance) to win the stage and take the ochre jersey whilst Grace Brown (Holden-Gusto) rode solo into third place.
DS, Loren Rowney reacted on a tough day.
“I won’t sugar coat it. It was a hard day out there for the team. Tough conditions, hard parcours, and two days of hard racing in the legs meant some fatigue. The team road well as a unit, and can take a lot out of this experience.
It was a tough day out there for everyone, with echelons in the first part of the stage and some hard climbing towards the final. We rode well as a team again, and learnt from the mistakes of yesterday. I'm really happy with how everyone committed to the plan and backed each other 100%.”
Take a look at images from Stage Three.
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