Tour de l’Aude: Abbott takes queen stage as Pooley takes yellow
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Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Tour de l’Aude: Abbott takes queen stage as Pooley takes yellow

by Ben Atkins at 3:36 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Race Reports and Results
 
Team USA rider reaffirms her mountain class, while British Cervélo rider asserts herself overall

emma pooleyMara Abbott (United States) won the mountainous queen stage of the Tour de l’Aude in Osseja, outsprinting breakaway companion Emma Pooley (Cervélo TestTeam) after 97km in the Pyrénées. Evelyn Stevens (HTC-Columbia) finished third, 43 seconds behind the front two, making an all English-speaking podium for the day.

The first attack of the day was from Abbott’s US teammate Katheyn Mattis, who attacked after 11km on the lowere slopes of the first climb of the day, the Col du Calvaire. She was joined before the summit by Regina Bruins, Sharon Laws and Pooley (all Cervélo TestTeam), Emma Johansson (Redsun), Stevens and Abbott. Bruins and Mattis were unable to take the pace of the other five though and dropped back.

A group counterattacked behind, consisting of defending champion Claudia Häusler and Carla Ryan (both Cervélo TestTeam), Trixi Worrack (Noris Cycling), Annemiek Van Vleuten (Nederland Bloeit), Ruth Corset (Tibco), Andrea Bosman (Leontien.nl), Edwige Pitel (Michela Fanini) and Christel Ferrier-Bruneau (Vienne-Futuroscope). The eight riders picked up Mattis but were unable to catch the leading six.

On the final kilometre of the day’s second big climb Johansson and Laws lost contact with the other three, and Laws missed a corner on the descent to leave Johansson chasing Abbott, Pooley and Stevens alone.

As the leading trio started the third climb to the Col de la Llose, Pooley attacked and was pursued by the two Americans. Abbott left Stevens behind and caught Pooley, crossing the summit first, with the HTC-Columbia rider 34 seconds behind at the top.

In a carbon copy of stage 3 of last year’s Giro d’Italia to Monte Serra in Tuscany, Abbott and Pooley rode to the finish together on the drag to the finish in Osseja. Just like in that stage, Abbott outsprinted Pooley on the line to take the stage victory. Stevens followed the duo home 43 seconds later, with Johansson following her after 1’57”. Laws managed to hold off a group of pursuers to finish just ahead of Marianne Vos (Nederland Bloeit).

Yellow jersey Adrie Visser finished in a small group 3’23” behind the winner and so Pooley takes the race lead, just as she did in that Giro d’Italia stage last year.

“I am very happy today. It is always great to be in the leader’s jersey of Tour de l’Aude,” said Pooley. “So far I have a good gap over Adrie Visser. We still have some races to go, and something can always happen but I am confident.”

Pooley now carries a healthy lead of 2’34” over Visser heading into the second half of the race. Although today’s mountain stage was by far the toughest of the race there are plenty of hills to come on the way to the finish in Carcassonne on Sunday. The weather in this part of France can also play a huge part and so the Cervélo TestTeam will have to work hard to deliver the Briton to final victory.

Tomorrow’s stage in Amélie les Bains includes two more first category climbs, the first one coming in the early kilometres, and with a second category climb which tops out at 3.5km from the finish is ideal for a breakaway.

Result stage 4
1. Mara Abbott (USA) United States National Team
2. Emma Pooley (GBr) Cervélo TestTeam
3. Evelyn Stevens (USA) HTC-Columbia @ 43s
4. Emma Johansson (Swe) RedSun Cycling Team @ 1’57”
5. Sharon Laws (GBr) Cervélo TestTeam @ 3’05”
6. Marianne Vos (Ned) Nederland Bloeit @ 3’15”
7. Claudia Häusler (Ger) Cervélo TestTeam
8. Christel Ferrier-Bruneau (Fra) Vienne-Futuroscope @ 3’19”
9. Carla Ryan (Aus) Cervélo TestTeam @ 3’23”
10. Katheryn Mattis (USA) United States National Team @ 3’23”

Standings after stage 4
1. Emma Pooley (GBr) Cervélo TestTeam
2. Adrie Visser (Ned) HTC-Columbia @ 2’34”
3. Loes Gunnewijk (Ned) Nederland Bloeit @ 3’09”
4. Emma Johansson (Swe) RedSun Cycling Team @ 3’15”
5. Evelyn Stevens (USA) HTC-Columbia @ 3’21”

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