Kirsten Wild (Cylance) was the winner in the battle of the sprinters on Stage 2 of the Santos Women’s Tour, powering up the home straight to win the sprint from teammate Rachele Barbieri and Chloe Hosking (Ale Cipollini).
Jamie Finch-Penninger

Cycling Central
15 Jan 2017 - 10:48 PM  UPDATED 16 Jan 2017 - 4:42 PM

The Dutch star had shown that she had brought some strong legs with her from the European winter finishing with the front bunch over tough terrain in the first stage. She showed that she hasn’t forgotten how to sprint either, showing up many of her key rivals for the rest of the season by taking the win.

“For me it’s a new team and I think it’s so nice that we start with a victory,” Wild said. “The leadout didn’t work like we planned, I was supposed to follow Dani King in the finish but we lost her and I went my own way. Because I don’t have the legs for the long stages yet I thought I’d go for this one and (Stage 4).”

Wild hadn’t been one of the top riders in the intermediate sprints with teammate King the main participant, trying to grab some bonus seconds.

“I tried for the first one, but I didn’t want to use too much energy because the stage win is more important. For Dani, it was good to take some seconds in the GC," Wild said.

The riders got set for their 32.2km criterium around Rymill Park with large crowds thronging the barriers around the 2.3km course.

Amidst the party atmosphere, jumping castles and food vendors, there was a race going on. With Ale Cippolini controlling the race in the early stages for Australian sprinter Chloe Hosking it was a relatively controlled affair in the early stages.

Hosking made the most of the early efforts of her team, taking out the intermediate sprint to take the lead on the road in the classification. The sprint proved to be the moment to launch some attacks as well, with ambitious riders aiming to stay off the front.

Most were pulled back straight away until Emily Roper (High5 Dreamteam) jumped away to be joined quickly by Lousia Lobigs (Holden) and Rebecca Womersley (Drops Cycling). Their advantage never stretched out to beyond 10 seconds and they were reeled back in as the sprinter's teams began to ramp things up in preparation for the second intermediate sprint.

Lauren Kitchen (NSWIS Sydney Uni) finished ahead of King (Cylance), Ruth Winder (UnitedHealthcare) in the dash to the line as they attempted to move some positions on the general classification. The teams of the sprinters remained tucked in, biding their time for the final few laps.

The third and final sprint saw Lauren Kitchin again taking out the precious bonus seconds, beating out Katrin Garfoot (Orica-Scott) and Peta Mullens (Hagens Berman Supermint) on the line.

In the final laps it was the local Australian team High5 Dreamteam that came to the fore, leading out their chosen sprinter Rebecca Wiasak. It proved to be a bit early, with the other teams swamping the front of the race in the penultimate lap.

The battle for the front really heated up in the final lap with the speed too much for most of the leadout riders, dropping off and exposing their sprinters to the front a bit early.

Coming round the final corner, Hosking was left on the front without cover and as she looked around for help, the sprint was launched on the other side of the road. Kirsten Wild powered to the line and saluted as she crossed the line first with teammate Rachele Barbieri following her wheel for second.

Hosking battled to the line for third and was candid afterwards in breaking down the sprint.

“Yeah, I was way too early,” she said. “It wasn’t super organised in the final, I just followed the Canyon-SRAM train but they weren’t organised.

“I was just hoping for a ‘La Course’-like finish, jump early and hope they don’t catch you but it was too tough with that uphill drag at the end.

“It’s really hard to beat someone like in that sprint there’s that downhill just before it goes up and she’s so big and carries a lot of speed into there. It’s not the result we wanted but it’s a podium and that’s nice.

“I think everyone’s still finding their feet and we were hoping to do a leadout today. That was a lot of the reason the team is out in Australia, to get the team used to riding together before we get to Europe.

“This is a group of girls that will probably ride a lot together throughout the season. We didn’t nail it today, hopefully, we can nail it in the coming stages.”