Nicole Cooke and Marianne Vos take stage wins in Bira tour double day
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Saturday, June 12, 2010

Nicole Cooke and Marianne Vos take stage wins in Bira tour double day

by Jered Gruber at 4:48 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling
HTC-Columbia's Judith Arndt leads overall with one day to go
Saturday's eventful double day at the Iurreta-Emakumeen Bira stage race in the Basque Country included a morning 5.9 km difficult uphill time trial, followed by an afternoon stage of 70 km in the Basque hills.

HTC-Columbia's Judith Arndt finished second behind Great Britain's Nicole Cooke in the morning time trial. Arndt was 15 seconds behind Cooke, but managed to put enough time into Cervelo TestTeam's Claudia Häusler to take over the top spot overall.

"Judith won this short uphill time trial stage in last year's Bira so she was feeling confident, but she had to change tactics this time because the course was very different," said HTC-Columbia team manager Ronny Lauke.  "It was much steeper for the first two kilometres compared with last year's climb.  She decided to go all out early on and then try and hold her pace for the second part of the ascent.  Her strategy worked out well, and now we've got the lead."

The afternoon stage included a category two climb and a thrilling finale, which saw Marianne Vos take the stage win and Emma Johansson come in second. Both Häusler and Arndt were in the group, so the general classification time difference between the two remains the same at 12 seconds. Cervelo TestTeam sport director, Egon van Kessel, described Stage 3b: "At the end, there was a group of about 50 riders with four of our team in this group. Then, at the end, six riders escaped. They only had about 10-15 sends on the bunch, but this group contained all of the main riders, including Claudia."

With only a small time difference between Arndt and Häusler, tomorrow's final stage, which includes four classified climbs, should provide all that is necessary to settle the overall battle.

Cervelo hopes to take over the top spot on the final day: "Claudia is still in second and tomorrow's final stage will be another hard one with more mountains, especially towards the end of the race about 10 km from the finish. We want to win this and we will try very hard tomorrow to do just that."

HTC-Columbia manager, Ronny Lauke, is hopeful for current leader, Judith Arndt though: "Sunday is by far the biggest challenge. It's 130 kilometers long and has four classified climbs, plus the weather isn't getting any better. Häusler's closest so she's the biggest threat in theory. But Judith has good form at the moment and the whole team is very motivated. We'll be giving it 100%."

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