Armitstead confirms her talent; takes Aude stage 1 and race lead
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Saturday, May 15, 2010

Armitstead confirms her talent; takes Aude stage 1 and race lead

by Ben Atkins at 3:12 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Race Reports and Results
 
21 year old wins out of select group

Lizzie Armitstead (Cervélo TestTeam) won the first stage of this year’s Tour de l’Aude in Rieux Minervois, outsprinting the rest of a select breakaway group. The 21-year-old Briton beat Dutchwomen Chantal Blaak (Leontien.nl) and Adrie Visser (HTC-Columbia) into second and third at the end of the 117km stage.

Armitstead’s win maintains the Cervélo TestTeam’s perfect record in this year’s race after Regina Bruins’ prologue victory yesterday.

The first intermediate sprint proved to be the springboard for a group of nine riders to escape. Armitstead, Blaak, Visser, Romy Kasper (Noris Cycling), Loes Gunnewijk (Nederland Bloeit), Petra Dijkman (RedSun Cycling), Emma Mackie and Brooke Miller (both Tibco) and Martine Bras (Gauss-RDZ-Ormu) were allowed to leave the peloton; because each of the race’s biggest teams was represented the group was allowed to build a lead.

When the groups lead was just over a minute Katheryn Mattis (United States) and Béatrice Thomas (ESGL 93-GSD Gestion) bridged across making eleven up front.

After 55km the group had built a lead of 5’40”, much of it due to Mackie on behalf of Miller. Having finished a fraction quicker than Armitstead in yesterday’s prologue, Visser was the virtual leader on the road. This meant that the battle for the lead would take place on three of the five sprints, which carried bonus seconds. With Miller fighting for the red sprints jersey, Visser and Armitstead exchanged the virtual lead until the Briton held a one second lead as they approached the finish.

The peloton had reacted behind the lead group but with 30km to go they still held a lead of 3 minutes. Mattis twice attempted to escape the other ten riders but was pulled back each time; Dijkman attempted to escape in the final kilometre but the group brought her back. As an experienced track rider, Armitstead used her strong sprint to hold off the others, with Blaak beating Visser to second. With the ten seconds bonus on the line extended her single second lead over Visser to 7, taking over the yellow jersey from teammate Bruins.

Dutch champion Marianne Vos (Nederland Bloeit) led the peloton home 1’16” later.

Tomorrow’s stage will be a rolling 34.5km team time trial around Clermont l’Herault. The strong time triallists of the Cervélo TestTeam will hope to extend Armitstead’s lead, while HTC-Columbia will look to help Visser take it from her.

Result stage 1
1. Elizabeth Armitstead (GBr) Cervélo TestTeam
2. Chantal Blaak (Ned) Leontien.nl
3. Adrie Visser (Ned) HTC-Columbia
4. Martine Bras (Ned) Gauss-RDZ-Ormu
5. Brooke Miller (USA) Team Tibco
6. Loes Gunnewijk (Ned) Nederland Bloeit
7. Béatrice Thomas (Fra) ESGL 93-GSD Gestion
8. Romy Kasper (Ger) Noris Cycling
9. Katheryn Mattis (USA) United States National Team
10. Petra Dijkman (Ned) RedSun Cycling @ 3s

Standings after stage 1
1. Elizabeth Armitstead (GBr) Cervélo TestTeam
2. Adrie Visser (Ned) HTC-Columbia @ 7s
3. Chantal Blaak (Ned) Leontien.nl @ 14s
4. Loes Gunnewijk (Ned) Nederland Bloeit @ 20s
5. Brooke Miller (USA) Team Tibco @ 23s

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