Emma Pooley victory salvages “chaotic” Tour de Languedoc-Rousillon
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Thursday, May 23, 2013

Emma Pooley victory salvages “chaotic” Tour de Languedoc-Rousillon

by Ben Atkins at 10:38 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Race Reports and Results
British rider wins three years after final Tour de l’Aude despite continued problems

emma pooleyAfter looking like it was to be cancelled for the second year in a row, on the day before the race, the inaugural edition of the women’s Tour de Languedoc-Rousillon eventually did get under way in southern France last week, albeit with the first stage missing. Despite the organisational problems that saw the Rabobank-Liv/Giant and Boels-Dolmans teams head home in disgust, all of the other teams stuck around to contest the five remaining stages.

The race was won by Emma Pooley (Bigla), after the British rider took the victory on the hilly third stage, then consolidated her overall lead with second place in the penultimate day’s time trial. Despite her victory, Pooley pulled no punches as she confirmed that the race’s problems were far from solved after it finally did go ahead.

“The whole race was chaotic,” Pooley explained to VeloNation. “Not just the shambles at the start with it being cancelled; and then not. Frequent last-minute changes of accommodation: a nightmare for anti doping whereabouts; poor quality accommodation: campsites of varying cleanliness; no proper addresses for race starts… It was all highly frustrating.

“That said, the race itself was safe and well marshalled and challenging,” she conceded. “And given the dearth of women's races at the moment, it was a good thing it was on the calendar and I'm glad that most teams stayed to race. I can understand the point of view of those that left, but for most of us once we'd been through the hassle and cost of travelling there, it was worth trying to support the race.

“I hope the tour happens next year again, but it has to be much much better organised.”

It is hoped by many that the Tour de Languedoc-Rousillon could go on to go some way to replace the Tour de l’Aude, which disappeared from the calendar in 2011 after XXX years. Pooley was the last winner of the race, taking a dominant victory in the 2010 edition, and was understandably happy to have made a victorious return to the southwestern part of France.

“I'm really very pleased with the win,” she said. “I was surprised to be honest because my preparation has been far from ideal and I was just going there for training really.

“Of course, due to the chaos at the start, the field was not as strong as it could've been...but you have to be in it to win it,” she smiled. “For a little team like Bigla, we did a great job. I'm really proud of - and grateful to - my teammates. And I'm glad I could show that even in a year when I'm only riding part time, I'm not totally rubbish.

“It was strange being back in Aude three years on,” she added, “and nice to recognise some of the beautiful scenery.”

With the first stage having been cancelled, stage two, between Lèzignan-Corbières and La Barcarès went ahead more or less to plan, and was won in a sprint by 2007 World champion Marta Bastianelli (Faren-Let’s Go Finland) after a number of riders crashed in the final corner. The victory was Bastianelli’s first since taking her World title more than five years before, having become far less of a waif-like climber since returning from her two year suspension in 2010.

Pooley then took the next stage, between Maury and Camurac, after breaking away from a select group of climbers that included five-time Giro Donne winner Fabiana Luperini (Faren-Let’s Go Finland) and South African champion Ashleigh Moolman (Lotto-Belisol), while the remaining three stages were taken by riders from Specialized-lululemon

"I'm so proud of the girls," said Specialized-lululemon directeur sportif Ronny Lauke. "After the hiccups at the beginning of this race, the girls stayed positive and showed that they really want to race and they want to race hard. Every day they gave everything on the road."

Loren Rowney beat Bastianelli in a big bunch sprint between in the stage four between Belcaire and Villemoustaussou, then Lisa Brennauer beat Pooley into second in the Trèbes to Laure-Minervois time trial

“I'm really happy with this," Brennauer said. "I've really worked hard on the road this year transitioning from racing primarily on the track last year. Its really nice to get a good result this week. Also to try to ride for CG was great and we had a lot of fun racing together here."

Canadian Gillian Carleton then crowned the race for the American team as she escaped from a group of four that included mountains classification leader Valentina Scandolara (MCipollini-Giordana) in the final Béziers stage.

"It feels great to win here," Carleton said. "It's been a hard week but I'm happy to get through my first big race in Europe for the season. It was a fun race and it makes the hard work worth it to come away with some wins."

Race Results Tour de Languedoc-Rousillon (2.2)

Stage winners
Stage 1: Cancelled
Stage 2: Marta Bastianelli (Ita) Faren-Let’s Go Finland
Stage 3: Emma Pooley (GBr) Bigla Cycling Team
Stage 4: Loren Rowney (Aus) Specialized-lululemon
Stage 5: Lisa Brennauer (Ger) Specialized-lululemon
Stage 6: Gillian Carleton (Can) Specialized-lululemon

Final overall standings
1. Emma Pooley (GBr) Bigla Cycling Team
2. Tatiana Antoshina (Rus) MCipollini-Giordana @ 1’29”
3. Alena Amialyusik (Blr) Be Pink @ 2’30”
4. Ashleigh Moolman (RSA) Lotto-Belisol Mix Team @ 2’32”
5. Anna van der Breggen (Ned) Sengers Ladies Team @ 2’55”
6. Fabiana Luperini (Ita) Faren-Let’s Go Finland @ 3’16”
7. Edwige Pitel (Fra) Michela Fanini-Rox @ 4’36”
8. Lisa Brennauer (Ger) Specialized-lululemon @ 4’38”
9. Christel Ferrier-Bruneau (Fra) Faren-Let’s Go Finland @ 6’35”
10. Belen Lopez (Spa) Lointek @ 7’49”


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