Women’s Tour of New Zealand: Evie Stevens takes the lead as Emma Crum takes a breakaway stage
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Saturday, February 25, 2012

Women’s Tour of New Zealand: Evie Stevens takes the lead as Emma Crum takes a breakaway stage

by Ben Atkins at 5:29 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Race Reports and Results
Yellow passes from one US rider to another as the peloton sits up

evelyn stevensThe race lead in the Women’s Tour of New Zealand passed from one United States rider to another, as a breakaway took almost eight minutes out of the peloton on the hilly 110km fourth stage around two laps of a circuit around Palmerston North. New Zealnder Emma Crum (Cyclosport NZ) took the stage victory, in a two-rider sprint with Australian Amy Bradley (Wheelworks), but Stevens took the sprint for third, 22 seconds behind them, to take the yellow jersey from teammate Kristin Armstrong.

Crum and Bradley had broken away from a ten-rider on the second of the two hilly laps and managed to build a stage-winning advantage; the gap came down steadily as the strong riders behind them began to chase, but they managed to hold out and sprint for the win between themselves.

"I was quite confident because in the last 5km I had been doing most of the work and I felt a bit stronger than Amy,” Crum told RoadCycling.co.nz afterwards. “I thought I would have it on her in the sprint.

“I am so happy to have the win"

The break escaped the peloton early in the first circuit, after an attack from Linda Villumsen (GreenEDGE-AIS) was closed down by the United States team. Eight riders initially got clear, consisting of Crum, Stevens, Shara Gillow (GreenEDGE-AIS), Joanne Hogan (VIS Women), Miranda Griffiths (Armstrong Motor Group), Reta Trotman (New Zealand), Elena Berlato (Italy), and Taryn Heather (Jayco-AIS); with a rider each in the group, the United States and GreenEDGE-AIS - the strongest teams in the race - sat up, and a gap quickly began to open.

When the gap was up to two minutes however, Bradley and Wheelworks teammate Philippa Sutton bridged across; the group was now ten and the gap to the peloton was widening further still.

On the second lap, as the leaders hit the big climb, Crum and Bradley escaped and managed to stay away, where Crum took the victory.

Behind them, the battle was on for the yellow jersey between Stevens and Gillow, who started the day just one second apart, 38 and 39 seconds behind Armstrong respectively. With the Olympic time trial champion several minutes behind, the lead would pass to one of these two, and with four bonus seconds left on the finish line, the sprint for third would be all-important.

Stevens won the sprint, and the four seconds, and increased her lead over Gillow to five; Heather, who finished ninth on the stage is just 13 seconds back in third place.

Carla Ryan (Jayco-AIS) led a small group, including Armstrong and former second place Judith Arndt (GreenEDGE-AIS) over the line, 7’33” later to take eleventh place, with the rest of the peloton finishing 8’02” back.

The fifth and final stage, around a simiarly hilly circuit, should see another great contest between the United States and GreenEDGE-AIS teams to decide the overall winner.

"It's going to be a great battle tomorrow," said Stevens to RoadCycling.co.nz.

Result stage 4
1. Emma Crum (NZl) Cyclosport NZ
2. Amy Bradley (Aus) Wheelworks Racing
3. Evelyn Stevens (USA) United States National Team @ 22s
4. Shara Gillow (Aus) GreenEDGE-AIS
5. Joanne Hogan (Aus) VIS Women Team
6. Miranda Griffiths (Aus) Armstrong Motor Group Team
7. Reta Trotman (NZL) New Zealand National Team
8. Elena Berlato (Ita) Italian National Team
9. Taryn Heather (Aus) Team Jayco-AIS
10. Philippa Sutton (NZl) Wheelworks Racing @ 2’53”

Standings after stage 4
1. Evelyn Stevens (USA) United States National Team
2. Shara Gillow (Aus) GreenEDGE-AIS @ 5s
3. Taryn Heather (Aus) Team Jayco-AIS @13s
4. Joanne Hogan (Aus) VIS Women Team @ 22s
5. Reta Trotman (NZL) New Zealand National Team @ 27s
6. Miranda Griffiths (Aus) Armstrong Motor Group Team @ 2’58”
7. Kristin Armstrong (USA) United States National Team @ 6’37”
8. Judith Arndt (Ger) GreenEDGE-AIS @ 6’48”
9. Emma Crum (NZl) Cyclosport NZ @ 7’09”
10. Carla Ryan (Aus) Team Jayco-AIS @ 7’32”


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