Feature – Women’s Aviva Tour Stage 2


Gordon Wiseman chats to Molly Weaver & Emma Pooley, Leah Kirchmann & QoM leader Katherine Hall pre and post stage at the Women’s Tour in Warwickshire

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Feature – Women’s Aviva Tour Stage 2

by Gordon Wiseman

Being held in another quintessentially English location, the 141km second stage of this year’s Women’s Aviva Tour drew to historic Atherstone – as has always been the case for this jewel the UCIs women’s calendar – large, maybe not very knowledgeable but certainly enthusiastic crowds despite the threat of – again, of course ThisIsEngland – heavy rain.

After the opening 139km stage to Norwich had been won at the very last pedal stroke by Boel Dolmans Christine Majerus – winner of the stage into Kettering last year – today’s parcour was going to require a completely different set of racing legs with a number of challenging hills and climbs to be tackled.

And that was on the mind of many as they prepared for the day ahead.

Molly Weaver (Team Liv-Plantur) – “Yesterday was a good stage for us as a team and it was a nice to ease into the Tour with a sprint stage. I suppose it wasn’t really a full-on sprinters stage with so many turns in the last kilometre but we’d had a look at the finish beforehand so we knew we had to sort a lead out that was different than normal but, even so, it was a lot more uphill and technical than we’d expected.

“Today is going to be a much tougher day on paper with a lot more climbing, steeper and longer climbs so I think we’ll find the favourites will take some time today. But we have Leah Kirchmann riding for us for the GC and stage wins so we’ll be doing what we can to get and keep her in position. And she’s in really good form at the moment.

“For me the race is about 100% riding for the team. I felt really good yesterday but, on the first day of a stage race you’re never too sure how your legs will feel but, I was feeling really good so that helped me. As a team it’s all about keeping Leah in the best place possible.

“This time last year this was my first race with the team but for 2016 it’s been a lot easier working with them from start to finish. Now I’m completely embedded into how the team works and I’ve had the full cycle of early season team camps, team launches and things so, yes, it’s going really well. And because I’ve been part of the team since the start of the year it’s been a lot easier for everyone to bond together”.


Emma Pooley (British National Team) – “I was a bit worried I was going to be dropped out the back straight away yesterday so it was a bit of a relief to have made it to the end and pretty much in the bunch. I’m a bit apprehensive about racing after being away for so long as I still don’t have all the fitness I need but that will come.

“The great bit yesterday was racing into my home town so, yes, that was good. I would have loved to have won the stage going into Norwich but that wasn’t really ever going to happen for me with that course.

“I think this race has really grown since I rode it in 2014, the course has got more challenging, more interesting and it’s clear from the crowds along the roadside yesterday that its following has certainly grown. I think the organisers have consolidated the position of the race and now all the biggest teams are desperate to come to this race”.

Katherine Hall (below) (Unitedhealthcare Pro Women Team) – “Yesterday I had a really good time, it was a good course, and getting some QoM points was really good and I’d like to take the lead in that competition in the long run. I’d like to take a little more out of this race.

“There’s tougher climbs to come in the next couple of days. It was interesting yesterday for the climbers to be sprinting for the QoM points, it was like slow motion sprinting! We came to the race without any sprinters so jerseys like the QoM and stage wins is what we’re here for”.


Post Race Reactions
It was a stage where Amy Pieters (Wiggle HIGH5) won an incredibly tight, uphill sprint to win the second stage of the Women’s Aviva Tour from 2015 overall winner Lisa Brennauer (Canyon SRAM Racing and Raboliv’s Marianne Vos, that third place being enough to earn the yellow jersey for the multi-World Champion after she’d experienced an incredibly difficult 2015.

A significant break made up of double Danish junior World Champion Amalie Dideriksen (Boels Dolmans) and current Polish national champion Malgorzata Jasinska (Ale Cipollini) was pulled back by a group of around 20 riders as they tackled the last climb of the day, just 25kms from the finish.

From that point on it was attack after attack as the strongest teams, Boels and Wiggle – who both had five riders in that front group – and a Canyon SRAM Racing quartet fought to make their superior numbers pay dividends.

Into the final kilometre Nikki Harris attacked to try to make it a British winner but as the speeding bunch started the final rise to the finishing line it was Pieters who threw her bike first across the line.

Leah Kirchmann (Team Liv-Plantur) – “That was a really tough stage today. There were quite a few climbs in the course today and, with the rain, that made it all a really difficult final kilometres. Unfortunately I didn’t have the best sprint today, it was just hectic, and as I wasn’t able to get a position as we came across the bridge I wasn’t able to properly contest the sprint.

“I had Molly and Floortje Mackaij with me in the front group so that’s a really good positive from today as we had really good team representation where it mattered.

“It was a difficult choice to say whether the climbs or the weather were the worst part of today but together they certainly made it tough for us all. And with all the water about and the puddles, there was a lot of gravel on the corners making the descents a little sketchy in the rain.

“I expected the day to be tough today from having looked at the road book and from talking with some local people and that’s exactly how it proved to be. I’ve heard that tomorrow will be tougher but, right now, that’s tomorrow. But I’m really fortunate to be supported by some really strong team-mates”.

Molly Weaver (Team Liv-Plantur) – “The most important thing today was to make sure Leah was in an important position going into the climbs and then into the small group at the end. From the last climb about 25 of us were away and from then on it was attack after attack.

“A couple of the teams really kept the pace on as we came off the final climb and started the run in to the finish. On that decent it was really narrow, gravely and technical and those leading teams really kept it pedal to the metal, it was full-on. From then on there was no way the group was going to come back together.

“I’m pleased with my performance today’ – Molly finished in the front group of 25 riders – ‘especially as we’ve had a bit of a gap in the racing since the Classics so, yes, I was really pleased to be there in the final stages today. It was a horrible day weather wise but, I’m really loving what I’m doing riding with Liv-Plantur”.

Katherine Hall (Unitedhealthcare Pro Women Team) – “I said before the stage today that I wanted this jersey’ – the Strava Queen of the Mountains – ‘and although that could have meant I jinxed myself, here I now have it so I’m really pleased.

“The rain made it pretty fun but at the same time it made for some really hard racing and although I sometimes felt a little nervous on the descents I knew it was the same for everyone. Some of the puddles were really deep so you just didn’t know what you were going to hit.

“I won the first QoM and then won the sprint for third on the second climb. I’ve got the jersey now which is what I set out to do, so overall, today has been a great success.




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