It was an emphatic reversal of the criterium result of the previous evening as Chloe Hosking (Alé–Cipollini) rolled Stage 2 victor Kirsten Wild (Cylance) in the reduced bunch sprint to win Stage 3 of the Santos Women’s Tour.
By
Jamie Finch-Penninger

Source:
Cycling Central
16 Jan 2017 - 4:36 PM  UPDATED 17 Jan 2017 - 5:41 AM

Coming into the finishing straight, Hosking had locked herself onto Wild’s wheel and only surged past Wild in the final 100 metres to take the victory.

Sprinting into a moderate headwind, Wild wasn’t able to hold Hosking off but she managed to finish within a bike length for second. Alexis Ryan (Canyon-SRAM) just pipped Peta Mullens (Hagens Berman) for the final podium spot.

After the stage, Hosking was jubilant about taking her first win of the Australian summer and the manner in which it came, with a win over her major rival in the sprints.

“It was a straight out drag sprint, she’s really hard to beat in sprints like that to come off her wheel and come around her, I’m really happy with that," Hosking said.

Hosking went on to break down how the race had gone from her perspective with the relatively controlled pace of the peloton playing into her hands.

“When we went over the KOM (the Whispering Wall) for the first time, I was fairly sure it was going to stay together for the finish." she said. "I told Janneke (Ensing) and Carlee (Taylor) not to be on the front of the climb. Even on a kilometre-long climb going faster can be a problem for me as a sprinter.

“As it turned out I got over the climb and then it turned into a waiting game between me and Wild. She was following my wheel, then she found her teammates and I was following her wheel.

"I think I learned my lesson from worlds, I just followed my wheel and wouldn’t let anyone come in on it. She started her sprint with probably 175 metres to go and I was able to power over her.”

The win was the first of the season for Hosking, who had been kept from having a proper bunch sprint at the Bay Criteriums and wasn’t suited to the hilly nature of the road race course.

“I’m really happy with that. This is a lot more reminiscent of real road riding. A 93-kilometre race is a lot better than a 40-minute crit, Hosking said. "I asked Fortunado, our DS, knowing that I wouldn’t be in form what he wanted and he said one stage win would do, so now I’m a bit relieved.”

The win also ticked off another objective for the Alé–Cipollini team, who have posted solid results on this outing to Australia. In addition to the stage win, Hosking is in possession of the sprint jersey while Ensing holds the mountains classification lead in addition to sitting in second place overall.

Race leader Amanda Spratt was rarely in trouble throughout the stage with her Orica-Scott squad shielding her from any possible trouble. She finished safely in the main bunch to maintain a 19 second lead over Ensing.

AS IT HAPPENED

The peloton started out of the town of Tanunda, in the heart of the Barossa Valley, for the penultimate stage of the first women's WorldTour event of the year. Erin Kinnealy (Holden Women’s Cycling) was the early aggressor going on the attack solo in the first few kilometres. She got her lead up to a maximum advantage of a minute and 30 seconds as the peloton led by Orica-Scott were prepared to let her dangle off the front of the race.

They began to reel the Holden rider back in as they approached the first sprint point, but Kinnealy maintained a 45-second advantage through the first negotiation of the finish line, which doubled as the sprint point. Back in the peloton, Hosking maintained her position in the lead of the sprint classification, outsprinting Lauren Kitchen (NSWIS Sydney Uni) for the minor places.

The women were then on their first of two laps of a 23-kilometre circuit around Lyndoch, containing an ascent of the Whispering Wall as it’s feature point. Kirsten Howard (NSWIS Sydney Uni) bridged across to Kinnealy after the sprint point but their advantage was short-lived as the peloton upped the pace before the first ascent of the Whispering Wall which rated as a six per cent climb over one kilometre. As the teams fought for position leading into the climb, a crash brought down several riders, disrupting the rhythm of the race.

The climb split the race further and over the top the peloton was strung out with riders all over the road. The race reformed after the descent from the peak with about half of the remaining riders left in the peloton.

Ann-Sophie Duyck (Drops Cycling) and Lucy Bechtel (Specialized) made the most of the lull in the pace to attack the front group. They pushed their advantage out to a lead of twenty seconds but as the main bunch got their sights set on the second intermediate sprint they were quickly brought back into the fold.

The second sprint was a repeat of the first, with Hosking beating Kitchen to the line, though it looked like the NSWIS Sydney Uni rider wasn’t attempting to pass Hosking and was keeping another effort in reserve for the finish. The second ascent of the Whispering Wall was less eventful than the first, but attrition took its toll creating big gaps between the riders.

It was a straightforward ride into the sprint finish from there with the top class showdown between Hosking and Wild ending up in an Australian victory.