How the race finished
Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig (FDJ Suez) took a strong victory ahead of Soraya Paladin (Canyon//SRAM Racing) to move into the overall race lead. Once again, it was Sofia Bertizzolo (UAE Team AQD) who completed the podium.
Full results are available below.
How it happened
It was a slow start as the peloton rolled out from Glenelg, moving from a long neutralised section into an uphill drag. Visma-Lease a Bike quickly came to the front to push the pace, but a headwind that would plague the first quarter of the race effectively neutralised the opening part of the day.
It wasn’t until the first categorised climb of the day, up to Cherry Gardens Hill, that any real pressure was laid down in the peloton. Despite the headwind, a hard pace saw sprinters being dropped. Nonetheless, Katia Ragusa (Human Powered Health) had little competition to take the points atop the climb, extending her lead in the mountains classification.
On the winding descent the peloton stretched out. Corner after corner, the bunch slowly splintered. Eventually it all came back together, and those who had been dropped on the climb were also able to find their way back to the safety of the bunch, but for many riders, they had expended a little more energy than was desirable so early in the stage.
The middle of the race saw a few tentative attacks, but with most teams showing interest in placing their riders up the road, the breakaway attempts were all neutralised.
The first intermediate sprint of the day came with 69 kilometres remaining. With bonus seconds up for grabs, Liv Alula Jayco, FDJ-Suez and UAE Team ADQ were all in the mix. Dominika Wlodarczyk (UAE Team aDQ) upset Roseman-Gannon (Liv Alula Jayco) to take maximum points, with defending champion Grace Brown (FDJ Suez) rolling through in third.
At the second intermediate sprint, Wlodarczyk played off a strong lead out from teammate Eugenia Bujak to again take maximum points, once again seeing off Roseman-Gannon, with Lily Williams (Human Powered Health) in third.
With both sprints complete, Bridgelane decided it was now or never, and began throwing attacks from all corners of the peloton. Inside 50 kilometres to go, Haylee Fuller was finally allowed to go clear, gaining a slender solo lead. Attempts to bridge across to the lone leader were all brought back, and the resulting increase in pace in the peloton began to prove attritional. Lidl-Trek took advantage of this, sending Backstedt and Hanson to the front to keep the pace high.
Despite stretching out, the peloton rolled through the final classified climb of the day intact, with Ragusa once again taking maximum points, this time ahead of Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig (FDJ Suez). Lidl Trek’s Brodie Chapman rolled through third and pushed on, but the peloton was wise to the move and tracked her closely. After the tight left turn in Stirling, Elizabeth Stannard made a move for the Australian National Team, but Chapman quickly tracked her down.
AG Insurance Soudal Team grouped on the front, taking control of the thinned out peloton, despite race leader Ally Wollaston lurking near the back of the bunch. Lidl Trek and Lifeplus Wahoo were also visible at the front. The Australian National Team tried again, this time with Emily Watts who put in a huge attack to quickly get a small gap over the bunch. Watts held her lead at around 30 seconds for around 8 kilometres, before being reeled back in by Team dsm firmenich Post NL’s Francisca Koch with 8 kilometres to go.
Lidl Trek’s Lauretta Hanson drove the pace on the front, setting up for an attack from Brodie Chapman who opened a gap. It was chased back by AG Insurance Soudal Team’s Anya Louw, with Liv Alula Jayco also tracking the moves closely. AG Insurance Soudal Team continued to manage the front, with other teams happy to regroup behind.
At 1.3 kilometres to go, with their leadout having given it all, AG Insurance Soudal Team disappeared from the front. Sarah Gigante was left to find her own way to the line. Eleonora Ciabocco (Team dsm firmenich Post NL) took it up on the front, leading out for Francesca Barale, before Neve Bradbury (Canyon//SRAM Racing) came through to wind things up for teammate Soraya Paladin. Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig (FDJ Suez), who had been perfectly positioned throughout in third wheel, launched with 150m to go, opening up a gap and never looking back before crossing the line with her arms raised.
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Race Report by Sophie Hamer