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After nearly three hours of racing, a dwindled peloton dashed to the finish line in Santa Rosa, making way for a bunch sprint.
Coryn Rivera (United Health Care Pro Cycling) was the first to make a move on the far right but Marianne Vos (Rabo-Liv) countered quickly, launching a long sprint to the finish.
Rivera was unable to match the speed of the former multi-world champion and could do little more than secure her second place while Vos punched the air as she crossing the line.
This marks Vos’ first big road race victory since making her return from longterm injury.
“It had been a hard stage today. I had a tough time on the climb. It wasn’t too good,” Vos told Ella CyclingTips.
Vos and her Rabo-Liv team had failed to make the break, which rode off the front of the peloton until the final miles of the race, and thus, had to chase to bring the break back.
“I came over the top [of the climb] with a bigger group, and my teammate Shara Gillow was still with me. We decided to keep on riding, to chase, to see if we could get back. When the gap dropped below a minute, we knew we had chance, and knew that in this group, I could be one of the best sprinters. In the end though you still have to have the legs, and I wasn’t sure but yeah, I’m very happy.”
Does this mean that Vos is on her way to regaining her old form back?
“Well…,” Vos hesitated. “Kind of. The sprint was good…it might be more satisfying if you have to fight for it.”
It was Wiggle-High5’s Emma Johansson who rounded out the podium today, and with a fourth place finish in the lead group, race leader Megan Guarnier (Boels-Dolmans) holds onto the yellow leader’s jersey as we go onto the final stage.
Going for a stage win
Going into Stage 3, many teams were aware that the General Classification win is no longer attainable for them baring any disasters or massive shake-ups. As such, team treated the stage as an individual event with a stage win becoming the main focus. Among them were Canyon-SRAM, Hitec Products, Wiggle-High5, Tibco and even fourth placed Rabo-Liv.
On the docket was a tough day in the saddle. The 111-kilometre course, running between Santa Rosa to the Pacific Ocean and back, would feature two significant climbs and plenty of aggressive racing in between. The race would culminate with three fast circuits in downtown Santa Rosa.
With so many teams going for a stage win, the racing was aggressive early on but no real threat formed until hill climb specialist Mara Abbott (Wiggle-High5) got away on the second Queen of the Mountains climb. Knowing her team third placed GC rider, Emma Johansson, was sitting comfortably in the pack behind her, Abbott had the freedom to roam and make other teams chase her.
A promising chase group formed behind Abbott with most big teams in attendance including race leaders, Boels-Dolmans. Noticeably missing, however, was Rabo-Liv.
This brings us to…
The Stud of the Day: Shara Gillow
“Shara Gillow rode her *** off for me to catch the lead group for the final sprint,” Vos commented after the race.
Gillow successfully got Vos back to the lead group in time for Vos to do what she does best –win.
After a “long day of suffering”, the winningest female cyclist of all time got to savour her first win in a UCIWWT event.
Onto Stage 4
The Amgen Breakaway From Heart Disease Women’s Race Empowered with SRAM continues tomorrow with a 41-mile circuit race (20 laps) around Capitol Park in Sacramento.
Stage 3 Results
2. Coryn Rivera
3. Emma Johansson
4. Megan Guarnier (race leader)
5. Brianna Walle
Vos’ win today puts her into the top-5 in the overall standings. Guarnier holds onto the yellow leader’s jersey with a 15 second gap on second placed Kristin Armstrong (Twenty16-RideBiker). Evie Stevens (Boels-Dolmans) sits in third place, 25 seconds behind teammate Guarnier.
Highlights from Stage 3