Words by SweetSpot, Images by Chris Maher
Katarzyna Niewiadoma held onto the race leader’s OVO Energy Green Jersey at the conclusion of the penultimate stage of the OVO Energy Women’s Tour in Chesterfield, but only after resisting a stern challenge from her rivals on the roads of Derbyshire.
The Polish National Champion, who has led the OVO Energy Women’s Tour since Stage One in Northamptonshire on Wednesday faced her strongest challenge yet in the four days of racing, with Christine Majerus at one stage becoming the virtual green jersey on the road, ending the day in second overall, 1-minute and 25-seconds back from Niewiadoma, who described it as “one of the hardest races I’ve done in my life.”
“I knew it was a really dangerous move and I knew we had to start riding to bring her back. I tried to stay calm and relaxed and only think positively,” said Katarzyna Niewiadoma after the finish.
“As soon as you start thinking negatively you become nervous. What made it easier for my head is that I knew the course was hard and the climbs suit me. I also knew that some teams would be destroyed on this course; it wasn’t easy to stay in the front group.”
“My DS was coaching me, giving me advice on what I had to do. Of course it’s impossible to control every attack but I tried as much as I could. I’m super happy that the OVO Energy Green Jersey is still with me. It was really cool that Cervélo Bigla and Canyon/SRAM helped us chase the breakaway down; I knew Canyon would want to keep Hannah Barnes in third on GC, so it was really cool that they were eager to ride.”
The stage win went to Orica Scott’s Sarah Roy, as an Australian came out on top in the OVO Energy Women’s Tour for the second day running following Chloe Hosking’s win in Warwickshire on Friday.
“I’m really excited, elated and thrilled to take the victory, especially given the efforts that the team have put in for the past few stages,” said Roy speaking afterwards. “Gracie [Elvin] was in the break yesterday and got caught with five kilometres to go, which was both exciting and disappointing, so for us to have another dig today and pull it off was awesome.”
“I was preparing for a bunch sprint because the girls behind were lighting up. We just happened to dig really dig on an uncategorised climb towards the finish; I took a few fewer turns but [Christine] Majerus really put the hammer down. I just held her wheel and I took over on the descents.”
“I felt pretty good coming into the finish. I didn’t want to be the one attacking but I was really confident following the wheels. I’m actually really surprised – it was very hilly and I’m not a climber. It was a hard race.”
Team Sunweb’s Leah Kirchmann also jumped up the order, elevating herself to third overall, 11-seconds behind Majerus, as the Barnes sisters dropped to fifth and sixth, with Hannah retaking the higher position and the Adnams Best British Rider jersey.
Kirchmann was part of a day-long three rider break including Shara Gillow and eventual winner Roy that was joined by Majerus, who bridged the gap from a small chasing group with 77-kilometres of racing remaining.
Buoyed by Majerus’ presence, and with no chase initially behind, their lead swelled putting the Luxembourg champion into the virtual race lead. With Cervelo Bigla and Canyon/SRAM aiding the isolated Niewiadoma in the chase, they were gradually reeled back in, until with Roy, Majerus and Kirchmann contesting the finish.
Having saved her legs for the finish, Roy led from the front outsprinting Majerus on the cobbled finish line, with Kirchmann coming home third for the final bonus seconds.
Audrey Cordon-Ragot sealed the SKODA Queen of the Mountains climb ahead of the final, flat, stage in London, finishing with a six-point lead over Lucinda Brand.
“It was a hard day, I think we did really good in protecting the jersey” said the Wiggle HIGH5 rider speaking following the podium ceremony. “The first goal of the day was to target the first SKODA Queen of the Mountain climb at Middleton Top, which we did. The only thing was that if Lucinda won the second SKODA Queen of the Mountains climb we would lose the jersey, so we had to stay awake. Obviously with it being a hard race, it was easiest for me to keep the jersey with a breakaway up the front.”
“I knew I had really good legs from the Ardennes. I’ve found a really good shape this year and a nice way to ride my bike, so it’s a nice reward. But I wasn’t coming for that, I was coming to help Giorgia and Jolien win as many stages as I could, but it’s really nice I have a reward.”
Teammate Jolien D’hoore retained the Eisberg Sprints Jersey, with Christine Majerus now her nearest challenger, two points behind with six points available during London’s final stage.
Top Ten Stage 4
1 46 ROY Sarah 00″ ORS AUS B:12″
2 4 MAJERUS Christine 01″ DLT LUX B:09″
3 52 KIRCHMANN Leah 05″ SUN CAN B:09″
4 62 BASTIANELLI Marta 17″ ALE ITA
5 73 BARNES Hannah ‘ ‘ LPR GBR
6 22 BRONZINI Giorgia ‘ ‘ WHT ITA
7 44 *MANLY Alexandra ‘ ‘ ORS AUS
8 55 VAN DIJK Ellen ‘ ‘ SUN NED
9 51 BRAND Lucinda ‘ ‘ SUN NED
10 133 DE VUYST Sofie 22″
GC Top Twenty after Stage 4
1 34 NIEWIADOMA Katarzyna 00″ WM3 POL 15h06’31”
2 4 MAJERUS Christine 01’25” DLT LUX 15h07’56”
3 52 KIRCHMANN Leah 01’36” SUN CAN 15h08’07”
4 55 VAN DIJK Ellen 01’38” SUN NED 15h08’09”
5 73 BARNES Hannah 01’41” LPR GBR 15h08’12”
6 81 *BARNES Alice 01’46” DRP GBR 15h08’17”
7 11 MOOLMAN-PASIO Ashleigh 01’52” CBT RSA 15h08’23”
8 13 *LUDWIG Cecilie Uttrup 01’58” CBT DEN 15h08’29”
9 91 KING Danielle 01’59” CPC GBR 15h08’30”
10 21 LONGO BORGHINI Elisa 02’00” WHT ITA 15h08’31”
11 75 CROMWELL Tiffany 02’02” LPR AUS 15h08’33”
12 5 PIETERS Amy 02’05” DLT NED 15h08’36”
13 53 *MACKAIJ Floortje 02’06” SUN NED 15h08’37”
14 6 VAN DER BREGGEN Anna ‘ ‘ DLT NED ‘ ‘
15 14 *KLEIN Lisa 02’07” CBT GER 15h08’38”
16 133 DE VUYST Sofie 02’10” LWD BEL 15h08’41”
17 63 ENSING Janneke ‘ ‘ ALE NED ‘ ‘
18 105 HEINE Vita ‘ ‘ HPU NOR ‘ ‘
19 161 ARCHIBALD Katie 02’14” WNT GBR 15h08’45”
20 111 GILLOW Shara ‘ ‘
Roll of Honor Stage 4
Stage Winner 46 ROY Sarah Orica Scott AUS
Combativity award 111 GILLOW Shara Fdj Nouvelle Aquitaine Futuroscope
General Classification OVO ENERGY 34 NIEWIADOMA Katarzyna Wm3 Pro Cycling Team POL
Points WIGGLE 4 MAJERUS Christine Boels Dolmans Cyclingteam LUX
Queen of the Mountains SKODA 23 CORDON RAGOT Audrey Wiggle High5 FRA
Sprints EISBERG 24 D’HOORE Jolien Wiggle High5 BEL
Best British ADNAMS 73 BARNES Hannah Canyon Sram Racing GBR
Best Team OVO ENERGY Team Sunweb
Tomorrow’s stage is in Central London