Lizzie Williams Grabs Final Stage; Ruth Corset Seals Mersey Valley Tour Win

Peloton Cafe || 2014 Mersey Valley Tour Stage 3 - Lizzie Williams

Peloton Cafe || 2014 Mersey Valley Tour Stage 3 – Lizzie Williams (image copyright Tim Bardsley-Smith/Cycling Australia)

Victoria?s Lizzie Williams (Specialised Securitor) capped her rapid ascent back into the Australian cycling scene with victory in the gruelling third and final stage of the Mersey Valley Tour on Sunday. Williams, 30, a former under 19 criterium national champion who recently returned to cycling after a ten-year hiatus, claimed the 75km stage in a sprint to the line over Alex Manly (SASI) and Tour leader Ruth Corset (Holden Cycling). ?I feel so relieved, its been a tough Tour for me, my preparation coming in here wasn?t ideal,? said Williams, who showed her climbing prowess last month by winning the challenging Mt Baw Baw Classic in Victoria. ?I have been off the bike for a couple of weeks and have only done a couple of rides.? So I was trying to hide that I wasn?t feeling good during the Tour, but ten kilometres in today I knew I had good legs and that I was going to go on the climb.? It was ana amzing performance from Corset as she recovered from two falls in the stage to be edged on the line for third, which was enough to seal her Tour victory.? The Queenslander also leaves the Apple Aisle with the Subaru National Road Series rankings jersey after clinching it after reaching the podium in Friday?s opening stage. The final stage of the second event for women series begun in chilly, single digit temperatures, with the field enjoying some of Australia?s most beautiful scenery from Ulverstone to the top of Gunns Plains. The pace quickly gathered momentum at the halfway mark, with the peloton reaching speeds of 80km/hour as they stretched out along the winding roads down the long descent into the Gunns Plains valley. The field settled into a comfortable rhythm on the valley floor as riders prepared themselves for the climb that awaited them.? Regarded by many as the toughest climbs in Tasmania, it is the site of hometown hero Richie Porte?s infamous victory at the 2008 Tour of Tasmania. The peloton quickly splintered up the shattering ascent, with Tour leader Corset and second on the standings Tessa Fabry (VIS), falling on the climb after clipping wheels. Corset quickly recovered and with Williams and 16-year-old phenom Anna-Leeza Hull (Racing Kangaroos), they formed a three-woman breakaway near the top of the climb. Corset?s team-mate Janelle Crooks and 2013 UCI Road World Championship medallist Manly joined the trio shortly after reaching the top, and with just over ten kilometres to go, and it appeared the quintet would challenge for the finish as they created a lead of just over one minute. However Corset once again came to ground inside the final ten kilometres after entering a corner too fast.? Unfortunately, a scintillating NRS debut by Hull was cut short after she came down in the same fall and was forced to withdraw with a suspected fractured elbow. Corset?s resilience once again able to shine in the Tasmanian sun, as she chased back the leading trio.? However she was unable to answer Williams as she kicked early and held it to the line to take a maiden NRS stage win. ?Just after the climb, the final five of us talked and we worked really well together.? Although we were hurting and we were tired, we knew we needed to maintain the pace together,? said Williams, who claimed the under 19 national Criterium crown, before turning down an offer to race in Europe at just 20 years of age in preference to focus on her university studies. Turning her attentions to the Victorian Women?s Football League (AFL) for a few seasons, Williams returned to the bike in September last year in training for an ironman triathlon. ?Ruth, I told her, she is like a cat, she doesn?t die and she got back on after falling twice,? Williams said.? But I knew she would be feeling it come the end and I would be fresher. ?I backed myself in the sprint, I have a kick on me, and I managed to hold it to the line,? she added. In the Tour standings, Corset took the honours by 59 seconds over Fabry, with Crooks a further seven seconds back in third.? Hull capped a roller coaster Tour with the Queen of the Mountain Polka Dot jersey. ?There were a few girls today who tried to get away, but my girls did a really great job of controlling the pace,? said Corset, the 2012 NRS champion. ?I was very happy that Janelle managed to get back on at the end, and we made sure we worked hard to stay away. ?It feels pretty good to have claimed the series jersey too.? We have a pretty strong team this year and we are all gelling and working really well. ?Given it is only the start of the year, I am looking forward to the rest of the year,? added Corset. Corset will now wear the Subaru NRS leader?s jersey in the next event, the Battle on the Border to be held in northern NSW from May 15. In the under 19 men?s road race, it was a Victorian trifecta with Jordan Stannus taking the win on the line over Mathew Ross and Lucas Hamilton. Images copyright Tim Bardsley-Smith/Cycling Australia

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