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While only in its fourth year, the OVO Energy Women’s Tour of Britain –with its hoards of fans, publicity and five days of hard, exciting racing – is an absolute highlight on the women’s calendar. It’s the only UCI Women’s WorldTour event in June and after a little break since the Amgen Breakaway from Heart Disease Women’s Race Empowered by SRAM, riders are raring to go.
The Women’s Tour is a big target for many riders and there are several teams and riders who call this event their home race, but for Canyon-SRAM’s Hannah Barnes in particular, this is a special event. As the reigning British national champion, she’s wearing the iconic red-white-and-blue stripes around her chest, and crowds cheer just a little bit louder as their national champion comes by.
What’s more, her friends and family are lining the course. Her parents took the week off work to travel from stage to stage and even her 89-year-old grandmother will be travelling to London to see the tour’s finale. In 2015, Barnes came away with a stage win. This year, she’s set her sights on putting on a show for the British fans by repeating that feat.
We’ll be following Barnes throughout the tour and checking in with her after each stage.
- Stage 1: Doing it for Grandma
- Stage 2: So close!
- Stage 3: Crashes, chaos and disappointment
- Stage 4 – coming June 10th
- Stage 5 – coming June 11th
Women’s Tour Stage 3 summary
After a break got caught with just 5 kilometres to go, stage three of the OVO Energy Women’s Tour came down to another bunch sprint. This time, however, it was Australian sprinter Chloe Hosking (Ale Cipollini) who crossed the line first in Royal Leamington Spa, just ahead of Alice Barnes (Drops Cycling Team) and Ellen van Dijk (Team Sunweb). Van Dijk netted her second podium finish in a row and moved up to second place in the GC, 1’31” down from race leader Kasia Niewiadoma (WM3 Pro Cycling).
“It feels really great,” said Hosking post-race. “This is a highlight race for most riders on the calendar so I feel really privileged to come away with my first win and first podium here. It’s a phenomenal event.”
“It seemed like a number of the teams wanted the finish to be from the group. There was a group of five that got away and for me that was a bit worrying. There were girls like Shara Gillow and Gracie Elvin – both Australians, both really, really strong – and the course wasn’t dead flat. It took a bit of effort to drag them in. Once we caught them everybody switched their mindset to a bunch sprint. It was a bit chaotic, which is strange because it was probably the least technical finish we have all week. But it was nice that the sprinters got a chance.”
Van Dijk netted her second podium finish in a row and moved up to second place in the GC, 1’31” down from race leader Kasia Niewiadoma (WM3 Pro Cycling).
The long, challenging stage once again saw teams furiously attacking and several breaks went up the road. A promising break of Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig (Cervelo-Bigla), Shara Gillow (FDJ Futuroscope), Gracie Elvin (Orica-Scott), Martina Ritter (Drops Cycling Team) and Malgorzata Jasinska (Cylance) threatened to shake up the GC.
The five-rider break built a gap of almost two minutes, which put Niewiadoma’s 1:46″ lead into danger. And so, as the kilometres were ticking down, an intense chase ensued. The catch was made around 5 kilometres to go and that’s when things got a little sketchy in the pack.
As teams were preparing for a bunch sprint, a crash — the third of the day — saw favourites Marianne Vos (WM3 Pro Cycling), Pieters and Dani King (Cylance Pro Cycling) hit the deck. Race leader Niewiadoma managed to stay safe, however, coming in with the main pack to maintain her overall lead.
Vos was sitting in second in the overall, but has abandoned the race. Her team reports that she went to the hospital for x-rays on her arm and collarbone, and she has indeed broken her clavicle. The team reports that at this point, it is not yet known how the injury will impact the remainder of Vos’ season.
OVO Energy Women's Tour (2.WWT) Atherstone → Royal Leamington Spa
Cervélo-Bigla Pro Cycling
Hannah Barnes’ Stage 3 report:
When Hannah Barnes sprinted to second place and into the Best British Rider jersey on stage 2, taking it off her sister Alice’s back, she told her younger sibling that she could have it back the next day. Little did they know, that is exactly how today’s stage would play out.
With an impressive performance, the younger Barnes sister, Alice, took second in the bunch sprint, behind stage winner Chloe Hosking. In doing so, she moved into third place in the GC, tied in time with Hannah who now sits in fourth.
“When I said that, I didn’t actually think it was going to happen!” Hannah told Ella CyclingTips. “I don’t mean that in a bad way; it’s just kind of a joke now.
“She tells me that I’ll still be wearing [the Best British Rider jersey] tomorrow because she’s in the points jersey, so I’ll be looking after it. I don’t know how I feel about that though because I only have two more race days in my national jersey so I want to make the most of it.”
Hannah said it makes her feel both proud and competitive.
“It’s curious to know who Mum and Dad are cheering for. They do a toss of the coin each day. Nah, they just shout ‘Barnes!’, which is good enough,” said Hannah.
Chaos, crashes and disappointment
Summed up in three words, today’s stage was chaotic, crash-filled and a bit disappointing, said Hannah.
And the chaos started before the race did.
“The camper broke down as we were making our way to the start. So it was a bit of a rough start to the day,” said Hannah. “We were already stuck in a traffic jam so we had to go back and get all our radios and bottles and everything off.”
The team arrived at the start with just 25 minutes to spare.
“It’s all fixed though but it was actually a funny start,” said Hannah.
The race was no less chaotic and saw several big crashes.
“There were probably three big crashes today. We had one about 40K in that was pretty big, and we had one rider in there, unfortunately. There was another right before 5K to go and then one at the finish as well so it was a bit of a crash fest today,” she said.
The Canyon-SRAM rider involved in the crash was Alena Amialiusik. Hannah said she’s doing OK, relatively speaking, but still had to abandon the race due to injuries.
“I think it’s just the nature of the roads — up and down and twisty. I also think there is just a lot of pressure on the riders to get that good result. It’s a big race for TV coverage, sponsors and teams so that’s at play, too,” Hannah explained.
“It does make it nerve-wracking, you can’t ever relax. Especially in the first one, a lot of the team were behind them and we saw Alena go down and it’s not nice to see that.”
The team spent a big part of the day in the chase, reeling in the five-rider break as the finish approached, and then prepared for a bunch sprint.
“It was pretty chaotic going into the last 4k. There was a drag that slowed everyone down a bit but then it was all very fast and chaotic,” said Hannah.
“I had all of the team at the front with 1k to go and I was in the perfect position, but yeah … Unfortunately, there were a number of things in the last 800 metres that happened.”
In the end, Hannah had to make do with a sixth place finish.
“I’m pretty disappointed,” she said. “I would have loved to have paid them back for their hard work. But we’ll keep fighting.”
Onto stage 4
“Tomorrow will again be pretty hard and hilly. I think it’s going to be really difficult. It’s a bit shorter but a really lumpy day. It doesn’t look very fun on paper,” said Hannah.
“I don’t think there will be a break that goes, but there will be more of a select group. I think tomorrow is one of those days where you’re going to have to be on your toes all day, and really fight for position going into the climbs because that’s where things are going to happen. We’ve got five riders now so we’ll see what we can do. We have two more days to have a go!”
Stage four information
Saturday, June 9
This is the second year in a row that Warwickshire County Council has hosted the OVO Energy Women’s Tour. Atherstone will once again welcome the start of the stage, after welcoming the peloton at the start of Stage 2 in 2016.
This time round, the riders will finish in the spectacular town of Royal Leamington Spa, and will be hoping for much better weather than they experienced in Warwickshire last year!
Stage four profile
OVO Energy Leader’s Jersey: Kasia Niewiadoma (WM3 Pro Cycling)
Wiggle Points jersey: Kasia Niewiadoma (WM3 Pro Cycling)
SKODA Queen of the Mountain jersey: Audrey Cordon-Ragot (Wiggle-High5)
Eisberg Sprints jersey: Jolien D’Hoore (Wiggle-High5)
Adnams best British rider jersey: Alice Barnes (Canyon-SRAM)
Check back tomorrow for Barnes’ stage four report!