On the final stage of the 2016 Santos Women’s Tour, it was Kimberley Wells (High5 Dream Team) that emerged from the pack round the final corner, to take the win in front of the big crowd that had gathered round the Victoria Park Circuit. She had time to celebrate in exuberant fashion as she clearly beat Annette EDMONDSON (Wiggle High5) and Katrin Garfoot (Orica-AIS), who guaranteed her win of the overall with her third position.
Katrin Garfoot entered the stage in the leader?s jersey, with 4 other riders, Lauren KITCHEN (Hitech Products), Shelley OLDS (Cylance), Dani King (Wiggle High 5) and Tiffany CROMWELL (SASI) all still within striking distance for the victory. With Garfoot, Kitchen, Olds and King all locked together on time, it was likely that the victory would be decided on countback of the riders finishing positions on the stage. Cylance?s sports director Manel Lacambra spoke to Peloton Caf? about his rider?s (Olds) chances on the stage.
?We will try to go for the win today, but it is not easy because you have strong teams like Wiggle and Orica, they are here for a long time and are acclimatised to the weather. We have been here for less time, we?ve got a bit of jetlag, so it isn?t easy. In the last stages, she (Olds) has spent a lot of time chasing and is not in the sprint, if she gets a chance to sprint today, if she is the strongest hopefully she will win.?
The early laps of the fast Victoria Park Criterium circuit were raced in controlled fashion, with the main teams staying near the front with their protected riders tucked away in the bunch. The one exception was Sophie Mackay (Specialized) who was very prominent at the head of affairs, and even had a go at the first intermediate sprint, despite Lauretta Hanson (Rush) having the sprint jersey all but sewn up. Indeed, Hanson did wrap the classification with her 2nd place in the first sprint, and as a result the remaining intermediate sprint wasn?t hotly contested.
A solo move from Georgia Catterick (Roxsolt) lasted a few laps, but the really dangerous moves got started with an attack from Tiffany CROMWELL trying to launch from the peloton with Amy ROBERTS (Wiggle High 5) right on her wheel. That move didn?t gain any traction, but it began to stretch the peloton out, and a move then stuck, with Jo Kieswanovski (NZL) attacking initially, the Valentina SCANDOLARA (Cylance), Kendelle Hodges (High 5 Dream Team) and Erin Kinnealy getting out to maximum advantage of 15 seconds and looking dangerous. The cohesion in the move broke down, with the riders unwilling to cooperate with Scandolara, who had some words with Hodges at one point when she wasn?t pulling through. That doomed that move, and the catch spurred a number of other short-lived attempts to anticipate the sprint.
Linda VILLUMSEN (NZ), the current world time trial champion, jumped away when the pace was off, immediately establishing a healthy gap of 12 seconds with only 5 laps remaining, but once Jo Hogan (Rush) started driving the peloton, the gap was brought closer and closer. As the sprint trains lined out, Villumsen was reabsorbed into the fold, and it became clear that the race would be decided in a bunch kick. Orica-AIS took up the lead initially, but with the bell ringing for the final lap, it was Wiggle High 5 who hit the front. They did a strong effort for Annette EDMONDSON, and led out to the final 200 metres, but at the last corner, Kimberley Wells rounded the corner wide, carrying a lot of speed, which proved enough for to continue to power clear for victory. Edmondson finished 2nd and Katrin Garfoot showed her surprise sprinting skills again to take third and secure the overall classification in the process. Kimberley Wells spoke after the race.
?It was fantastic, I was pushing to be there for a sprint finish all tour, and for it to finally get it out there today, in front of this fantastic crowd? I?m just so excited. It was so fast and so hectic out there in the final, and I saw the Wiggle High 5 girls looking so strong, and I just didn?t want to get dominated by them again today. I punched it up the back straight to put myself in good position for that sharp corner. When I went for it, I never looked back.?
Katrin Garfoot ended up wearing the jersey from start to finish, and was ecstatic after the stage. ?There was a lot of pressure on me and the team for this weekend, but we worked so hard together and without them I couldn?t have done any of it. In the sprint today, it was hectic at the end, I tried to sit on Chloe?s (Hosking) wheel, but she got boxed in and Lizzie (Williams) shouted ?Me, Me, Me?, and gave me the perfect leadout.?
Garfoot was joined on the podium by Shelley OLDS in 2nd place and Lauren KITCHEN in 3rd, with Dani King taking the mountains jersey after having secured it yesterday and Lauretta Hanson won both the sprints jersey and the young rider classification.
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