Dec 9th, 13. Crowd favourite German cyclist Jens Voigt will make his 11th appearance at the ... read more
Dec 8th, 13. Reta Trotman and Grayson Napier were impressive winners in the elite women’s and ... read more
Dec 5th, 13. Injured cyclist Eddie Dawkins will take his place in the team sprint combination ... read more
Kiwi victory on GC changing day
Feb 25th, 12. Tactical racing from riders with different objectives made for a tour changing day on Stage 4 of the NZCT Women's Tour of New Zealand where NZ's Emma Crum took stage honours.
After the 110km Palmerston North circuit, Crum (CycloSport) won a two women sprint from her breakaway companion Amy Bradley (Wheelworks Women's Racing).
The two broke free from a group of eight riders on the second loop past Ashhurst. They pulled further ahead up the second KOM with 30km to go and, although their time gap was tumbling, they were still ahead by 20sec down the finishing straight.
"I was quite confident because in the last 5km I had been doing most of the work and I felt a bit stronger than Amy, I thought I would have it on her in the sprint," Crum said, thrilled to have the victory. "I am so happy to have the win"
Behind them in the chase bunch was a familiar battle of GreenEdge vs Team USA but today it was not Judith Arndt and Kristin Armstrong fighting it out, those two champions were back in the main bunch over 5min behind.
Today's GC battle was between Evelyn Stevens (Team USA) and Shara Gillow (GreenEdge) who started the stage 4th and 5th +38 and +39 seconds respectively. Until now they have been busy supporting their team leaders either in breakaways or chasing them down.
Today, Stevens won the kick to the line from her small chase group and earned a few bonus seconds for her 3rd place. With the peloton containing the former leaders of the tour rolling over the finish line abour 7min later, she became the leader of the NZCT Women's Tour of NZ with a 5sec lead to Gillows ahead of tomorrow's final stage.
"It's going to be a great battle tomorrow," said the new leader of the tour.
Former race leader Kristin Armstrong will now swap to a support role.
"I am seven and a half minutes back, now it is very clear that we will be doing everything we can to protect that jersey and I think we will just control it from the start," she said, happy to have kept the jersey in the team.
What a difference a day makes! Battle for the stage win
At the end of yesterday's stage, Crum was visibly upset at how the race had panned out for her.
The Kiwi had wanted to do well on the stage which suited her climbing talents, but with 20km to go found she had run out of energy - the previous night she had been struck down with a vomiting bug.
Today, she told RoadCycling.co.nz before the start, was another opportunity.
"Just before the second sprint there were two corners and on the last one I just sprinted out and Amy came with me," said Crum sharing the details of her race winning move with Amy Bradley.
"The other girls in the group weren't really working before that and we also had Pip Sutton (a Wheelworks teammate of Amy) in the group so we knew she wouldn't chase. We just kept working together and we were just hoping to get over the hill and with about 30km to go we realised me might actually be able to stay away. It got really close at the end!"
Crum has had more QOM successes than sprint succeses, but after racing on the flat lands of Holland last season she has developed a fast finish too.
"I was quite confident because in the last 5km I had been doing most of the work and I felt a bit stronger than Amy, I thought I would have it on her in the sprint," she said, thrilled to have the victory.
Team USA's plan for the day worked outShe has led the tour since the opening stage time trial, but today Kristin Armstrong had to hand her yellow jersey to another rider - her teammate, which was one of the options Team USA had worked on.
When Armstrong crossed the finish line well behind the stage winner she headed straight over to the team car asking, "Did she do it?". The team's Kiwi soigneur Paul Holloway shared the news; Stevens had not won, but she had earned the yellow jersey. Armstrong was rapt.
"We had a couple of cards to play today," she explained to RoadCycling.co.nz "If we were going to play my card we would have taken the risk of Judith and I coming to the line together again. We had 11sec with two days to go, and for the last two days Judith has been quicker than I have, so we knew if we put Evelyn up in the front group we felt good about her sprinting against Shara Gillow.
"She had 1sec going into the stage on Shara so she was leader on the road. We were back there just hoping that she could get a few seconds so that we were in a better position for tomorrow."
Tomorrow it will be Armstrong working for Stevens, a switch the Olympic TT Champion is happy to make.
"I am seven and a half minutes back, now it is very clear that we will be doing everything we can to protect that jersey and I think we will just control it from the start."
Earlier in the stage ...
The first QOM saw the first big moves of the day with the quick pace up the 2km climb creating a select group of GC leaders at the front of the race. Over the top of the climb NZ's Linda Villumsen (GreenEdge) put on an attack but Team USA were on top of it despite losing three riders on the climb and as a subsequence of a crash leading up to it.
Eventually the GC leaders dropped back and the day's key break developed a 2min lead on the peloton. To the surprise of their Team Manager Tristan Thomas, two Wheelworks riders Pip Sutton and Amy Bradley bravely tried, and succeeded, in bridging the gap to form an eight rider bunch.
"Amy was higher than me on GC, so I was willing to sacrifice myself for her to do well," Sutton, the NZ Criterium Champion, explained of her powerful drive to reach the front of the race. "We had nothing to lose, we are here to have fun and mix it up with the World Champions. Today we decided to give it a crack."
Bradley said the break was making them do all the work, "So we figured if we are going to do all the work, we might as well do it off the front."
Once in the break, Bradley sat in for a couple of kilometres before Crum made her move and she followed. She found more energy from somewhere - she said she was too busy to eat - to help Crum as they battled to stay in front of their former companions. Bradley, a former Australian triathlon representative, finished the stage in second place.
"When the time gap got up to around 2min just before the second climb I said to Emma, 'we might actually do this'. We went steady over the climb and the time gap came in a bit so we started nailing it again and brought it back out."
With the strong headwind coming into the finish the time gap came down fast, but the Kiwi and the Aussie managed to keep their chasers at bay.
"Incredibly proud, amazingly proud," was how Wheelwork's team manager felt about his team's success today. "I was proud when they came across, to hear two Wheelworks numbers being called as going off the front we were surprised. We caught them up in the car and Pip was driving like an absolute motorbike - we were fizzing at that point. When they caught the break we were rapt and then for Amy to follow the next move and go ahead - incredible, just incredible."
"We were yelling as hard as we could to the riders even though they were four cars up ahead of us," said Wheelworks men's team rider Chris Kendall who was in the team car today.
In progress, more details, reactions, photos and results to come.
Tweet Follow @roadcycling
Support RoadCycling.co.nz Advertisers