Amber Neben takes control in New Zealand
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Friday, February 26, 2010

Amber Neben takes control in New Zealand

by Ben Atkins at 4:56 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Race Reports and Results

A split stage in Palmerston North gave the US national team more opportunities to assert itself. A rolling first stage saw the race’s first successful breakaway, but the afternoon’s time trial saw specialist Amber Neben (US National Team) show her class.

Digenis defies the sprinters

The morning’s rolling stage was won by Irene Digenis (Prime Estate Team-Australia) from a breakaway of four riders that the peloton just failed to pull back on the line. Second was Yvette Hill-Willis (Litespeed), with Gayle Brownlee (Handy Rentals) in third.

The stage saw attacks from the start, with Brownlee escaping as soon as the neutral flag was dropped. She never managed to get too far though, and was soon reeled in by the US controlled peloton.

Nobody managed to make a decisive break until Hill-Willis jumped clear on the second of two circuits, closely followed by Brownlee. The pair was soon joined by two more riders as Brownlee’s teammate Sia Svendson and Digenis managed to bridge.

With Svendson the highest placed on the overall classification, 2 minutes down on race leader Shelley Evans (US National Team) the peloton, led by the US, was happy to let them stay away. The gap reached 1’20” at its peak, but settled at 40 seconds as the race entered the closing kilometres.

In the final kilometres a strong tailwind worked in the breakaway’s favour and Digenis outsprinted the other three, with the peloton right on their heels.

Neben shows her TT class

US team captain Amber Neben showed some of the quality that won her the World time trial championship in 2008 by outclassing the rest of the field over the rolling 11km course. With the whole field competing on road bikes Neben, whose season still sits in limbo after the Nürnberger Versicherung team’s new sponsor pulling out, finished 24 seconds faster than her nearest challenger.

Race leader Evans, who won the first two stages, was second behind Neben and hands the yellow jersey to her teammate, with Tiffany Cromwell (AIS Australia Women’s Cycling) in third. Neben now holds a 4 second lead over Evans with two stages remaining; with time bonuses available at the finish Evans is poised to retake the lead, but the US team looks to be firmly in control.

Result stage 3
1. Irene Digenis (Aus) Prime Estate Team-Australia
2. Yvette Hill-Willis (NZl) Litespeed
3. Gayle Brownlee (NZl) Handy Rentals
4. Sia Svendson (NZl) Handy Rentals
5. Shelley Evans (USA) US National Team
6. Rochelle Gilmore (Aus) Lotto Ladies Team
7. Kaytee Boyd (NZl) New Zealand National Team
8. Cherise Taylor (SA) Nashua Ladies Pro Cycling Team
9. Meng Lang (Chn) Giant Pro Cycling Team-China
10. Kirsty Broun (Aus) AIS Australia Women's Cycling

Result stage 4
1. Amber Neben (USA) US National Team
2. Shelley Evans (USA) US National Team @ 24s
3. Tiffany Cromwell (Aus) AIS Australia Women’s Cycling @ 29s
4. Carly Light (Aus) AIS Australia Women's Cycling @ 38s
5. Lisa Jcobs (Aus) Australia NTID Team @ 40s
6. Ruth Corset (Aus) Nashua Ladies Pro Cycling Team @ 47s
7. Linda Villumsen (NZl) New Zealand National Team @ 50s
8. Shara Gillow (Aus) AIS Australia Women's Cycling @ 52s
9. Rushlee Buchanan (NZl) New Zealand National Team @ 54s
10. Vicki Whitelaw (Aus) Lotto Ladies Team @ 1’2”

Standings after stage 4
1. Amber Neben (USA) US National Team
2. Shelley Evans (USA) US National Team @ 4s
3. Tiffany Cromwell (Aus) AIS Australia Women’s Cycling @ 29s


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