Someone forgot to tell the Rally Cycling ladies that stage 3 of the Santos Women’s Tour Down Under was the toughest of this year’s race.
Heidi Franz charged into the early breakaway, leading a group of six over the decisive dirt road climb, while Leigh Ann Ganzar lept out of the field with 12 km remaining and nearly made it to the finish, getting caught at 1 km to go and earning herself the Most Combative prize.
“I counter attacked on instinct to take some pressure off Chloe and Krista,” said Ganzar. “We wanted to keep them in the best position possible to contest the finale. I just kept thinking that the longer I stay out here the more work the other teams have to do.”
After Ganzar was brought back into the fold, stage 1 winner Chloe Hosking came to the fore and fought her way to fifth place on the uphill grind to the line. The result moved Hosking into fourth on GC, 30 seconds down on stage winner and new race leader Ruth Winder (Trek-Segafredo).
“The team was great today,” said Hosking. “It was such a strong display of teamwork. Heidi worked hard in a break, Sara Poidevin did a phenomenal job guiding me and keeping me out the wind, and LA [Ganzar] launched a marvelous attack, forcing teams like Mitchelton-Scott to chase. It’s so fantastic that in our first race we are really coming together as a unit and backing each other.”
Team director Joanne Kiesanowki was asked if the team’s performances this week were a surprise to her.
“I would say they’re not exceeding my expectations but I’m sure they are exceeding some folks,” said Kiesanowski. “I hoped that they would rise to another level having Chloe as their teammate and they have done that in the best way. The girls raced with such heart and really made it an exciting race for everyone.”
Sunday’s criterium finale in Adelaide sends the peloton on a blistering 25 lap, six corner circuit to determine this year’s overall champion and final stage winner. Hosking has won the final stage the last two consecutive years and is the odds on favorite despite a peloton filled with the WorldTour’s best.
Stage 3 results
1 WINDER Ruth Trek-Segafredo Women 2:51:16
2 LIPPERT Liane Team Sunweb
3 STEPHENS Lauren Team TIBCO – SVB
4 MULLENS Peta Roxsolt Attaquer
5 HOSKING Chloe Rally Cycling
6 CHURSINA Anastasiia Alé BTC Ljubljana
7 HARRIS Ella Canyon SRAM Racing
8 GILLOW Shara FDJ Nouvelle Aquitaine Futuroscope
9 NEYLAN Rachel UniSA-Australia
10 SPRATT Amanda Mitchelton-Scott
Overall standings after stage 1
1 WINDER Ruth Trek-Segafredo Women 9:12:26
2 LIPPERT Liane Team Sunweb 0:07
3 SPRATT Amanda Mitchelton-Scott ”
4 HOSKING Chloe Rally Cycling 0:30
5 KIRCHMANN Leah Team Sunweb 0:33
6 MULLENS Peta Roxsolt Attaquer 0:34
7 STEPHENS Lauren Team TIBCO – SVB ”
8 LABOUS Juliette Team Sunweb 0:36
9 GILLOW Shara FDJ Nouvelle Aquitaine Futuroscope 0:37
10 HARRIS Ella Canyon SRAM Racing “