The stage belonged to Mitchelton-SCOTT but Cycling New Zealand’s Deborah Paine more than made her impression on the Santos Women’s Tour, spending the majority of the day in the breakaway before being caught just prior to the final climb to the finish.
Stage 2 of this year’s Santos Women’s Tour saw the riders take on a 116.7km course from Nuriootpa to Angaston and would be one of the most crucial stages in terms of deciding the general classification. The stage would be relatively tame but would be decided on the tough climb up Mengler Hill; 2.8km in length and averaging 6.7% in gradient.
Unlike yesterday, where no attacks could really materialise, today saw Rebecca Wiasak of Uni-SA Australia join New Zealand’s Debrah Paine at the head of the race. The pair would remain there for the majority of the day, building a lead that went out to over 2 minutes, with Wiasak leading the duo across the first intermediate sprint of the day after 37km of racing. At the Three Cols Climb with 57km to go Paine reversed the order and through the feed zone with 55km remaining the time gap sat at 2.34mins and despite closing to just shy of 2 minutes the duo’s lead extended again to 3.40mins.
Eventually though, with Trek-Segafredo playing a strong role at the head of the race, the gap was reeled back in and with 24km remaining the lead of Paine and Wiasak was down to just 25 seconds. Mitchelton-SCOTT were also marshalling their riders towards the front of the pack which had by now been reduced significantly. With 7km remaining the bunch finally caught Paine and Wiasak; with the latter taking the most aggressive rider prize.
From there the race was all about who would fare best on the climb to the line. Despite being reasonably short at 2.8km in length, the ramp to the finish would put minutes between the riders. The strength of Mitchelton-SCOTT cam to the fore here, with Amanda Spratt attacking to win solo; while Lucy Kennedy finished second at 39 seconds ahead of Rally UHC’s Kristabel Doebel-Hickok.
First of the Kiwis home was Niamh Fisher-Black in 18th place; just ahead of Gusto StepFWD KOM’s Elizabeth Stannard; with Kirsty McCallum 23rd and Grace Anderson 35th.
Today’s result means that Fisher-Black remains third overall in the young rider classification; 1.39mins behind Jaime Gunning of Specialized Women’s Racing; with Elizabeth Stannard fourth at 1.43mins and Grace Anderson 6th at 2.18mins.
After her breakaway efforts today, Deborah Paine now sits 7th in the QOM competition with 7 points; in the classification led by Alé Cipollini’s Nadia Quagliotto.