Emakumeen Euskal Bira: Judith Arndt secures the race as a wet descent settles final stage
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Sunday, June 10, 2012

Emakumeen Euskal Bira: Judith Arndt secures the race as a wet descent settles final stage

by Ben Atkins at 10:06 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Race Reports and Results
 
World time trial champion takes Basque stage race despite a crash in the closing kilometres

judith arndtAnnemiek van Vleuten (Rabobank) attacked to win the final stage of the 2012 Emakumeen Euskal Bira, between Orduña and Iurreta, but the wet descent to the finish saw Judith Arndt (Orica-GreenEdge) take the overall victory from Emma Pooley (AA Drink-Leontien.nl). Van Vleuten won alone, a single second ahead of Swedish champion Emma Johansson (Hitec Products-Mistral Home), who beat Trixi Worrack (Specialized-lululemon) in the sprint for second.

"We had explored the final kilometre and that came in handy," explained van Vleuten afterwards. "I knew I had to go into the last corner in front, and that worked out too. [The race] was a very good preparation for the Dutch championships in Limburg in two weeks time."

Arndt was descending in the company of Johansson and Worrack, when she, Belarusian champion Alena Amialyusik (Be Pink), and Lucinda Brand (AA Drink-Leontien.nl) crashed. Arndt and Amialyusik remounted quickly and rode together to the finish and, since the incident had happened inside the final three kilometres, they were awarded the same time as their former companions, which meant Arndt had won.

The wet descent proved too dangerous for race leader Pooley, who began the day just a single second ahead of Arndt, and the former British champion came in with a chasing group some 1’52” behind.

Having previously stated that the team would go after Pooley’s yellow jersey on the final stage, Orica-GreenEdge was on the attack straight away though Australian champion Amanda Spratt.

“We had a few options we discussed in our team meeting,” explained directeur sportif Dave McPartland. “We eventually settled on one main strategy. We planned to gap Pooley at the finish. Judith is one of the best descenders in the world. Pooley is a renowned climber, but it’s well-known that descending isn’t her strength. We decided our best bet was to gap her on the descent, and then, if she was still there, gap her in one of the corners during the last 800 meters.”

Joining Spratt up the road was compatriot Carlee Taylor, riding for the Australian National Team, and the two of them managed to get almost three minutes clear.

“AA Drink had the chase under control,” said McPartland. “While they managed to successfully contain the move, they spent a lot of energy in the process. They kept the race really calm, but they lost a few riders in the chase.”

By that point the rain had begun to fall on the race, and Arndt crashed for the first time on a wet descent. The World time trial champion was able to claw her way back up to the lead group however, which was now without race leader Pooley.

“Linda [Villumsen] and Spratty drove the pace on the flat road between the first major descent and the final climb,” explained McPartland. “They fell off pace when their work was done and left Judith to carry on from there. Pooley had lost contact with the front group on the descent, so despite the crash, the race was unfolding according to plan.”

With the lead group now well clear of Pooley, Arndt appeared to have the race in the bag, until the crash in the closing kilometres threatened to ruin everything. At first Johansson thought that she herself had taken the race victory, until the race commissaires ruled that the three kilometre rule applied.

“Judith’s second crash at the 1.5km mark was a big scare for us,” admitted McPartland. “Luckily, because it happened inside the final three kilometres, she was awarded the same time as the group she was with when she crashed.

“With no time bonuses up for grabs at the finish line, it meant she finished on the same time as the stage winner,” he explained. “That was enough for her to take the win.”

Result stage 4
1. Annemiek van Vleuten (Ned) Stichting Rabo Women
2. Emma Johansson (Swe) Hitec Products-Mistral Home @ 1s
3. Trixi Worrack (Ger) Specialized-lululemon
4. Sharon Laws (GBr) AA Drink-Leontien.nl @ 4s
5. Alena Amialyusik (Blr) Be Pink @ 1s
6. Judith Arndt (Ger) Orica-GreenEdge
7. Anna Sanchis (Spa) Bizkaia-Durango @ 48s
8. Claudia Häusler (Ger) Orica-GreenEdge @ 51s
9. Christel Ferrier-Bruneau (Fra) Hitec Prodcuts-Mistral Home
10. Kaat Hannes (Bel) Lotto-Belisol @ 52s

Final overall standings
1. Judith Arndt (Ger) Orica-GreenEdge
2. Emma Johansson (Swe) Hitec Products-Mistral Home @ 7s
3. Annemiek van Vleuten (Ned) Stichting Rabo Women @ 14s
4. Alena Amialyusik (Blr) Be Pink @ 39s
5. Sharon Laws (GBr) AA Drink-Leontien.nl @ 42s
6. Lucinda Brand (Ned) AA Drink-Leontien.nl @ 55s
7. Trixi Worrack (Ger) Specialized-lululemon @ 1’21”
8. Emma Pooley (GBr) AA Drink-Leontien.nl @ 1’50”
9. Anna Sanchis (Spa) Bizkaia-Durango @ 2’05”
10. Claudia Häusler (Ger) Orica-GreenEdge @ 2’30”

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