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ADELAIDE, Australia (CT) – US champion Ruth Winder (Trek-Segafredo) has held on to a narrow advantage to win the 2020 Santos Women’s Tour Down Under. Simona Frapporti (BePink) took out stage honours in a sprint from a breakaway.
Winder went into the final-stage circuit race with a seven-second advantage over Liane Lippert (Sunweb) and Amanda Spratt (Mitchelton-Scott). Both riders snagged time bonuses throughout the day, but not enough to take the ochre leader’s jersey from Winder.
“It feels pretty crazy to win the Santos Tour Down Under,” Winder said after becoming the first non-Australian, non-Mitchelton-Scott winner. “It’s such an incredible feeling. It’s not a single person’s sport — for every win, you need a strong team. I wish my teammates could accompany me on the podium.”
What a thrilling finish!
— 7Sport (@7Sport) January 19, 2020
Contested over 25 laps of a 1.7 km circuit in central Adelaide, the race was held in cool and blustery conditions. At the first intermediate sprint — after six laps — Lippert took three bonus seconds to move within four seconds of Winder’s lead. The race was far from over.
“After the first sprint, when Liana got that three seconds and I didn’t get any seconds, we were like, ‘OK, don’t panic — there’s three sprints left to go and the finish,'” Winder said. “I think we managed it really well.
“I had a lot of faith in my teammates, especially Lotta [who] was just really watching me. She’s a super fast sprinter so I had a lot of faith in her.”
At the second intermediate sprint — after 12 laps — Spratt took two seconds but Winder was able to minimise the damage by taking one second of her own.
In the handful of laps that followed, a breakaway group of 11 got clear of the peloton. While that group soaked up all the time bonuses at the third intermediate sprint, helping to protect Winder’s lead, the 26-year-old and her teammates still had to be vigilant.
“We couldn’t relax completely because some of the girls [in the breakaway] were not that far back on GC,” Winder said. “So we had to still man the front pretty well, but it was just a little bit of pressure off on the last sprint [and] at the finish.”
Four-time Kiwi road champion Rushlee Buchanan (Vantage New Zealand) attacked from the break on lap 21 and got as far as 12 seconds ahead, as the peloton to slipped to 30 seconds behind. Buchanan was ultimately caught on the final lap, setting the scene for a sprint from the breakaway.
Frapporti was first across the line, Lauren Stephens (Tibco) was second to add to her third place from a day earlier, and Buchanan rallied from her solo effort to finish third.
Back in the bunch, 26-year-old Winder crossed the line without hassle to secure the overall victory. Lippert finished second overall at five seconds, while three-time champion Spratt was third at six seconds.
For Winder, the victory is the biggest stage-race success of her career. She’s hoping it will be the start of a great season ahead.
“I’m really focusing on the Ardennes — I would really like a good result,” Winder said. “My best Spring Classic finish was 11th at Strade [Bianche] this last year so [I’m] trying to improve on that. And then obviously it’s an Olympic year so hopefully [I’ll] make the Olympic team.
“I hope that this is a good step in that direction, but we have a really strong load of women in the U.S. So it’s going to be a hard competition to make that team of four riders.”
Winder will now head to the Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race carnival in Geelong before starting her European campaign with Omloop Het Nieuwsblad.