In driving rain the riders of the Friends Life Women’s Tour braved the race’s longest stage on day two – 118km from Hinckley to Bedford in the east of England. Despite a couple of crashes the grimy conditions did not stop the racers going all out for the Strava QOM jersey and the other prizes on offer.
« We don’t really care about rain, » said Rabo-Liv’s World Champion, Marianne Vos, who took the Points jersey, talking with the Best British Rider Lizzie Armitstead (Boels Dolmans) after the stage. « It’s more interesting with rain. Well, maybe a bit slippery so you have to take care and watch out – but I think we both hope for some rain and wind the next day, it makes the race harder and more selective. »
The more challenging the conditions the better! – Armitstead added.
At the first QOM segment the peloton blasted up the climb behind young Team GB rider Ciara Horne but did not catch her. By the second QOM, Rosella Ratto (Estada de Mexico-Faren), had started her 70km-long break.
The course was lined with kids from local schools, all cheering their hearts out for the riders.
Wiggle-Honda and Marianne Vos’s Rabo-Liv teams put in concerted efforts to bring the break back, but the peloton did not catch Ratto and her companion Susanna Zorzi (Astana Bepink) before the line – too late for Orica-AIS to save Emma Johansson’s yellow jersey for another day.
Marianne Vos was careful not to underestimate her rival. « She was one of the best at the uphills, and she’s young, » Vos said. « It’s going to be difficult to drop her in the coming stages and she won’t lose time anywhere. »
The Strava Queen of the Mountains competition rewards consistency: Sharon Laws (UnitedHealthcare) has never been first over the top, but has placed in the top three on all the classified climbs so far, and deserves to wear the orange polka-dot jersey for the second day running.