New Zealand currently lead the team standings after stage 1 of the Santos Women’s Tour Down Under. Letizia Paternoster of Trek-Segafredo won the opening stage ahead of Sarah Roy and Arlenis Sierra, with Niamh Fisher-Black leading home the Kiwi contingent in 9th.
For many riders the UCI 2.1 Santos Women’s Tour Down Under represents the start of the international season with riders from all around the world converging on Australia. The opening 112.9km stage from Hahndorf to Birdwood was primed to be one for the sprinters. Three third category climbs featured en route to the finish line; but the final 15km or so would be almost entirely downhill, steadily working its way down to the finish.
The stage saw Astana and UniSA-Australia play big roles during the stage to lead the peloton, with Ale Cipollini and Mitchelton-SCOTT controlling the race for intermediate sprint points. Chloe Hosking took the points at the first sprint but the three climbs of the day could do little to break the race up and with 47km covered the race was all together.
On the approach to the second QOM points the Vantage New Zealand squad marshalled themselves towards the front of the peloton. Deborah Paine, Elyse Fraser, Kirsty McCallum, Grace Anderson, Amanda Jamieson and Niamh Fisher-Black made their way forward along with Mitchelton-SCOTT featuring recently crowned national TT champion Georgia Williams and TIBCO-SVB with road race silver medallist Sharlotte Lucas.
TIBCO-SVB remained present towards the front approaching the second sprint, but all the while it was a tale of gruppo compacto with no moves able to break free of the peloton who appeared very intent on a big bunch sprint finish. The third categorised climb of the day saw Georgia Williams cross the summit of the Licky Hit Climb with 27.2km remaining in second place; picking up 6 points in the race for the QOM jersey.
Heading towards the 10km to go banner New Zealand again pushed matters on the front before the likes of Astana, UniSA-Australia, Mitchelton-SCOTT, Ale Cipollini and Rally UHC came through to set the tempo heading towards the sprint.
In the fight for the line Trek-Segafredo’s 19 year old fast finisher, Letizia Paternoster, took the stage and with it the overall lead and young rider lead. Paternoster finished ahead of Mitchelton-SCOTT’s Sarah Roy and Astana’s Arlenis Sierra, with TIBCO-SVB’s Alison Jackson and BePink’s Rachele Barbieri completing the top 5.
First of the Kiwis across the line was Niamh Fisher-Black for New Zealand, with Amanda Jamieson 18th, Grace Anderson and Deborah Paine 24th and 25th; and Kirsty McCallum 30th. With five riders in the top 30, New Zealand took the lead in the team classification ahead of CCC-Liv and TIBCO-SVB. Niamh Fisher-Black currently sits third in the young rider classification, with Amanda Jamieson 5th, Grace Anderson 9th and Deborah Paine 10th.
|1||Letizia Paternoster||ITA||Trek-Segafredo Women||3.10.28|
|3||Arlenis Sierra||CUB||Astana Women’s Team||ST|
|4||Alison Jackson||CAN||Team TIBCO-SVB||ST|
|7||Matilda Raynolds||AUS||Specialized Women’s Racing||ST|
|9||Niamh Fisher-Black||NZL||New Zealand||ST|
|10||Chloe Hosking||AUS||Alé Cipollini||ST|