The inaugural Friends Life Women’s Tour kicked off today in Oundle, in Northamptonshire, UK. All 96 athletes at the sign-on appeared stunned by the reception from the crowds, and the thousands of spectators lining the route were not disappointed by the racing over rolling terrain for 93 windy, hilly kilometres to Northampton.
Sharon Laws, a British rider on the American UnitedHealthcare team, won the first Strava QOM orange polka-dot jersey with a gutsy ride up both of the classified climbs.
It’s fantastic. I didn’t think we’d see women’s cycling like this in Britain,” she said. “To have all the schoolchildren out and waving was amazing.
Oundle’s streets were packed as locals turned out in force to celebrate the Grand Départ of the UK’s first ever top-level women’s stage race.
Some riders got to the start line early, impatient for the off.
If your office overlooked Oundle’s West Street, you were in luck.
It was close on the final straight as local girl Hannah Barnes (UHC) contested the sprint with Marianne Vos (Rabo Liv) and Emma Johansson (Orica AIS).
The athletes rolled out and the racing began in earnest.
World Champion Marianne Vos finished second to Emma Johansson in an all-out sprint finish in Northampton. See her race activity and check how many QOMs she collected today.
The first ever Strava Women’s Tour QOM jersey went to UHC rider Sharon Laws – http://www.strava.com/activities/138563419.
Sharon said the climbing today was all about positioning: with narrow roads and a tight pack she had to do “a bit of cyclocross on the first climb. I rode up the grass for most of it.” Impressive, and well deserving of today’s QOM jersey!