Ella Harris is on song at the Santos Women’s Tour Down Under. The Kiwi racing for Canyon SRAM Racing has finished in the top ten in back-to-back stages to edge into the top 10 on GC and within 30 seconds of the best young rider jersey.
Stage 2 was Harris’ first time to shine in the 114.9km stage from Murray Bridge to Birdwood. The stage was a fairly rolling one, although there was just one QOM climb on offer, the category 2 climb of Christmas Tree Ridge that peaked 11km from the finish. Chloe Hosking began the day in the leader’s jersey and initially the race proceeded fairly calmly before a two-rider move went off the front of the pack for long enough to take the first sprint of the day.
But it was Mitchelton-SCOTT who split the race apart with a powerful move eventually going clear that contained Amanda Spratt, Liane Lippert of Team Sunweb and Ruth Winder of Trek-Segafredo. They took off 25km from the finish and their move would ultimately take them to the line. Lippert had the measure of her companions at the QOM with Winder and Spratt but after opening the sprint too early, Lippert faded a little as Spratt powered all the way to the line to take the win ahead of Winder.
18 seconds later Ella Harris trailed UniSA-Australia’s Rachel Neylan home; finishing 8th on the stage and moving up to 11th place overall.
News got better for Harris in today’s stage to Stirling. The course took the 85 remaining riders on a 109.1km course from Nairne that finished with a gradual ramp up to the line. The Kiwi thrived in the challenging finale, but there was plenty of action early on with her teammate Tiffany Cromwell joining a five-rider group that contained Doltcini-Van Eyck Sport’s Nicole Hanselmann, Anna Henderson of Team Sunweb, Maëlle Grossetête of FDJ-Nouvelle Aquitaine-Futuroscope and Simona Frapporti of BePink. They were back in the bunch by 30km, but another move was ready to go; this time a group of six riders.
In the new move were Tanja Erath of Canyon SRAM Racing, Matilda Raynolds of Specialized Women’s Racing, Josie Talbot of Uni-SA Australia, Lotta Henttala of Trek-Segafredo, Anna Trevisi of Alé BTC Ljubljana and Rally Cycling’s Heidi Franz. Reynolds was only 30 seconds behind new leader Spratt and the breakaway prompted a big reaction approaching a nasty gravel section. The gravel took few prisoners, with Mitchelton-SCOTT Kiwi Georgia Williams coming a cropper on the surface while a number of others faded under the attrition.
Through Stirling for the first time the bunch was largely together but Ruth Winder showed a statement of intent, taking the intermediate sprint. Ella Harris was aggressive in the next lap and on the way to the QOM points she was first to cross the line.
Harris took the initiative in the run up to the sprint finish and bravely led out the sprint; only for Winder to come through and claim a convincing win. Harris, tiring after her pace in the lead up to the finish, managed to hold on for 7th place across the line; enough to move up a place to 10th overall at 37 seconds. In doing so Harris also moved up to third in the young rider classification behind Liane Lippert and Juliette Labous; both of Team Sunweb along with 4th in the QOM classification.