Fight to the finish at the Aviva Women’s Tour won by Lisa Brennauer

by Jessi Braverman

Lisa Brennauer (Velocio-SRAM) won the second edition of the Aviva Women’s Tour in Hemel Hempstead on Sunday. The 27-year-old finished six seconds ahead of Jolien d’Hoore (Wiggle Honda) and seven second ahead of Christine Majerus (Boels-Dolmans). With bonus seconds up for grabs at two intermediate sprints and on the finish line, it was a fight to the finish for the yellow jersey.

The final day of racing, like each previous stage, ended in a bunch kick. This time it was Hannah Barnes (UnitedHealthcare) who proved quickest, outsprinting d’Hoore and Simona Frapporti (Alé Cipollini) to the finish line. The stage winner also topped the best young rider classification and the best British rider classification.

It was an animated race from the kilometre zero with several teams actively pushing the pace and sending riders up the road. Six kilometres from the stage start in Marlowe, Uenia Sousa Fernandes (Alé Cipollini) and Emilie Aubrey (Bigla) broke away from the bunch. Anouska Koster (Rabo Liv) and Gracie Elvin (Orica-AIS) bridged the gap between the peloton and the leaders to form a four-rider escape group.

The quartet stretched the gap beyond the minute mark before the peloton began to give chase. Wiggle Honda and Liv-Plantur swapped pulls at the front over the gently rolling roads.

As riders lost contact with the back of the bunch, attacks flew from the front. Although none of the four up front presented any threat to the general classification, it’s obvious that several teams were invested in keeping the race together for the intermediate sprint and climbs still to come. The leaders hit the base of Cryers Hill 42 seconds ahead of the peloton. The quickest up the climb will have reduced that gap to nearly nothing by the time they race the top.

The pace remained high following the first categorised climb –so high that the peloton split. Around 20-25 riders made the elite selection. All the overall contenders except d’Hoore made the split, which meant Wiggle Honda had to dig deep to close the gap.

By the time the two main groups had reconnected, Claudia Lichtenberg (Liv-Plantur) has ridden up the road. She hits the second QOM with a 1:30 advantage over the peloton.

Emma Johansson (Orica-AIS), fighting for a spot on the overall podium, went on the attack up the climb. Megan Guarnier (Boels-Dolmans), Elisa Longo Borghini (Wiggle Honda) and Sabrina Stultiens (Liv-Plantur) followed. The quartet’s advantage was short-lived. A splintered peloton pedaled past them a few kilometres over the top of the climb.

Audrey Cordon (Wiggle Honda) is the next to launch herself up the road. It doesn’t take her long to jump across to Lichtenberg. Ten kilometres from the finish, the duo have 15 seconds on the peloton. The reduced bunch times the catch to perfection, overtaking Cordon and Lichtenberg in the final kilometre.

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