A challenging few days for ORICA-SCOTT at the OVO Energy Women’s Tour were rewarded today by a stunning ride and victory by Australian Sarah Roy on a wet and windy stage four to seal the team’s first Women’s WorldTour win of 2017.
The stage started and finished in Chesterfield in the north of England and headed out into the rolling countryside for 125kilometres under heavy rain at the start which subsequently subsided after a couple of hours of racing.
Numerous attacks attempted to break clear, but it was the move of Roy that proved to be key. Part of a quartet of riders out front for the final 60kilometres, the 31-year-old played it cool even when it looked like the chasing peloton may make the catch.
“I saw an opportunity when the break was being formed and we immediately started to work well together,” said Roy. “I had a lot of support from the team car on the radio and that information was invaluable.”
The group had whittled down to two over the closing kilometres with Roy and Christine Majerus (Boels-Dolmans) holding 35seconds and the sprint up ahead. Roy held back until 200metres to go before unleashing a blistering attack to take the stage win.
“When the bunch started to get closer we adapted and had a secondary plan to go with Alex Manly for the sprint, but Majerus jumped twice and split our group until it was only the two of us left,” Roy explained.
“Marv (sport director Martin Barras) had given me great instruction as we went into the finale and was constantly encouraging me. It wasn’t as technical as previous days, but I made Majerus lead and I started my sprint from around 300metres and created enough of a gap to hold on.
“It feels so good to get our first WorldTour victory, the whole team has been working really hard and we have come very close so many times this season and it’s a big relief to get off the mark. The girls have been wonderful and I’m really happy.”
It was joy and relief all round for the team as sport director Barras went on to explain.
“For the last three days we have been talking about finding solutions for pulling a win out of this race,” said Barras. “We have really tried to make this happen and today was vindication for all our efforts. The break that Roy got into was tenuous and more than once it looked to be teetering on the edge, but full credit to Roy and her breakaway companions for their persistence and ultimately it paid off.”
“It is a great way to win a bike race and just reward for all the hard work that the team has put in and a great example and inspiration for the team for the remainder of the season.”
How it happened:
The rain returned for the start of stage four in Chesterfield as a constant drizzle characterised the opening 40kilometres over the winding Derbyshire lanes and into the picturesque Peak District National Park.
Roy again did well for ORICA-SCOTT, part of a three-rider move with two minutes on the bunch after 60kilometres of racing and five more riders chasing behind the lead trio.
The chasers included Lizzie Deignan (Boels-Dolmans) and race leader Kasia Niewiadoma (WM3) and their action led to more groups splintering off the front of the peloton and a significant increase in pace.
The trio out front were joined by Christine Majerus with 45kilometres remaining and began to push their lead back out on the Niewiadoma group.
With 20kilometres to go the Roy quartet was working well together as the Niewiadoma group was absorbed by the peloton with the four leaders now at two minutes 20seconds and looking good.
With the virtual race leader now in the Roy group WM3 and Canyon-Sram started to pay attention and began to drive the peloton as the leaders turned back towards Chesterfield and into a headwind.
It turned out to be too little too late as Roy and Majerus took control in the final kilometres and stormed clear.
The pair went on to hold off the field and contest the finale with Roy taking out a spectacular victory in Chesterfield’s historic centre.
OVO Energy Women’s Tour stage four results:
1. Sarah Roy (ORICA-SCOTT) 03:27:48
2. Christine Majerus (Boels-Dolmans) +0:01
3. Leah Kirchmann (Team-Sunweb) +0:05
General Classification after stage four:
1. Kasia Niewiadoma (WM3) 15:06:31
2. Christine Majerus (Boel-Dolmans) +1:25
3. Leah Kirchmann (Team-Sunweb) +1:36