Armitstead is the first British winner of the Women’s Tour as Lepistö wins the final stage

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The 2016 Aviva Women’s Tour has been an interesting race, with five different stage winners and three yellow jersey wearers.

Two stage wins went to Boels-Dolmans, the first stage won by Christine Majerus and stage 3 by Lizzie Armitstead. Two other stages were for the Dutchies, with Amy Pieters (Wiggle-High5) winning stage 2 and Marianne Vos (Rabo-Liv) finally taking that much desired stage win yesterday.

And then there was Lotta Lepistö (Cervélo-Bigla) today, winning the sprint out of a break of seven. “Today was pretty hard so I went with the break because my teammate [Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio] was second in the overall. We had to go in the move and finally that move went and we had a pretty big gap and it stayed in the final,” explained Lepistö afterwards.

Armitstead increased her GC lead on the numbers 2 and 3 yesterday, but the top 5 crept closer together, with only 17 seconds between numbers 1 and 5 at the start of stage 5. An exciting finale to round ten of the Women’s WorldTour was surely going to unfold today.

Although there weren’t any live images of the Women’s Tour, the cycling community has been following along on Twitter using #AvivaWT2016 and through the liveblog on the website of the Women’s Tour. The sheer amount of photos, clips, Facebook live videos and results that were published thoughout the race really made us feel we were part of the race.

Coverage-wise, this was the best non-livestreamed race we’ve had in women’s cycling this year. Other organisers should take it as an example of how women’s races can be promoted and covered when there’s no opportunity for a live broadcast or livestream.

After a terrible crash in stage 1 last year, causing her to abandon her home race after only one stage, Armitstead finally got to celebrate the Aviva Women’s Tour victory in the third edition. She is the first British winner of this race and is immensely proud of that.

“Being a British athlete, I feel so lucky to be a part of a country that loves cycling at the moment and I hope that that bubble continues. My teammates say ‘Lizzie, why is it so popular here?’ and I don’t really know the answer, but events like this certainly help keep the ball rolling,” she commented in the post-race press conference.

Always quick to thank her teammates for her results, she added: “We had quite a lot of pressure on us today, with the team performing so well all week I couldn’t let them down really. So I’m relieved and happy that I did it for them.”

The stage

A short 113.2 kilometer stage would decide the 2016 Aviva Women’s Tour winner. Not too much climbing, but still hilly like all the stages have been this year.

Aviva Women's Tour 2016 stage 5 course map

How the race unfolded

As the Women’s Tour would once again be decided by seconds, the peloton truly sprinted towards the first intermediate sprint, only 8.5 kilometers into the stage. The top 5 of the GC were all looking for the precious bonus seconds awarded to the first three crossing the line.

Armitstead wasn’t taking any chances, taking 3 bonus seconds at the sprint, with teammate Chantal Blaak making sure no other GC contender would be able to grab a few seconds, crossing the line behind her. Jolien D’Hoore (Wiggle-High5) took 1 bonus second.

The first break of the day was initiated by Jermaine Post. Her team Parkhotel Valkenburg got an invite for the Women’s Tour after Astana dropped out, and they have been very active throughout the race. She was joined by Emma Pooley (Team GB), Dani King (Wiggle-High5) and Vita Heine (Team Hitec).

Before the first QOM, the four leaders were caught by the peloton and a different group escaped the peloton. The break consisted of eight riders, representing eight different teams. It proved to be the decisive break and the women part of it were: Elena Cecchini (Canyon-SRAM), Marta Bastianelli (Ale Cipollini), Molly Weaver (Liv-Plantur), Bujak (BTC City-Ljubljana), Loren Rowney (Orica-AIS), Lauren Kitchen (Team Hitec), Lotta Lepistö (Cervélo-Bigla) and Janneke Ensing (Parkhotel Valkenburg).

Rowney wasn’t able to follow on the climb and the seven remaining leaders contested the first Strava QOM of the day. It was Bujak taking the maximum QOM points atop the Daventry Road Climb.

The peloton passed the top of this climb  1’27” behind the leaders and were again cheered on by lots of spectators.

Not much happened in the thirty kilometers between QOM’s 1 and 2, just some riders trying to bridge the gap to the leaders. They all turned out to be chasses patates though.

Bujak once again took the maximum QOM points on Naseby Nibble. Although Katie Hall’s (United Healthcare) lead in this classification wasn’t in any danger, the twelve QOM points taken by Bujak today earned her the combativity award for stage 5.

With Rabo-Liv and Boels-Dolmans driving the pace in the peloton, the leaders had an advantage of 1’15” left when they reached the second intermediate sprint, the lead having gone down from a maximum advantage of 3’15”.

Lepistö beat Bastianelli and Weaver at this sprint, less than 20 kilometers from the finish line. Once again it would be very exciting whether the peloton would be able to chase back the break before reaching the finish line.

Plenty of attacks by riders in the lead group in the final kilometers of the race, but none were able get away. With a 15 second advantage to the peloton, the leaders sprinted for the stage win, with Lepistö easily crossing the line first.

As none of the riders in the break were dangerous for the GC, Armitstead hadn’t been in any danger today at all. So when she finished in the peloton today, she knew she was the 2016 Aviva Women’s Tour winner.

And winning a race means: champagne!

*** Come back later for more photos & videos of the 2016 Aviva Women’s Tour! ***

The results

Stage 5 results
1. Lotta Lepistö (Cervélo-Bigla)
2. Marta Bastianelli (Ale Cipollini)
3. Elena Cecchini (Canyon-SRAM)
4. Lauren Kitchen (Team Hitec)
5. Eugenia Bujak (BTC City)

The 2016 Women’s Tour

General classification
1. Lizzie Armitstead (Boels-Dolmans) 16:00:39
2. Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio (Cervélo-Bigla) + 0:11
3. Elisa Longo Borghini (Wiggle-High5) + 0:13
4. Marianne Vos (Rabo-Liv) + 0:18
5. Amanda Spratt (Orica-AIS) + 0:20

Stoke-on-Trent young rider jersey
Floortje Mackaij (Liv-Plantur)

Chain Reactions Cycles points jersey
Marianne Vos (Rabo-Liv)

Strava QOM jersey
Katie Hall (United Healthcare)

Adnams best British rider
Lizzie Armitstead (Boels-Dolmans)

Best team
Wiggle-High5

Overall combativity winner
Emilia Fahlin (Ale Cipollini)

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