• Lucy Kennedy holds the leader's jersey going into the final stage of the 2.2 Tour de l'Ardeche (Cycling Australia)Source: Cycling Australia
Lucy Kennedy got the chance to show off her climbing ability in the mountainous UCI 2.2 Tour de l'Ardeche, taking the stage win and moving into the race lead. Her win made it two from two for the High5 Australian womens development squad after the previous stage had been won by Jessica Pratt.
Cycling Australia
10 Sep 2017 - 11:21 AM  UPDATED 10 Sep 2017 - 11:30 AM

Kennedy unleashed her climbing legs on the main climb of the day, jumping away with three kilometres remaining on the ascent and then cooperating well with her breakaway companion Hanna Nilsson (BTC City Ljubljana) into the finish. Kennedy proved fastest in the sprint to take her first European win.

"It is hugely satisfying to win my first UCI race during my first European block. This tour was always my target race so I've had to be a bit patient," Kennedy said.

"It's extra special that we're leading the team classification too so we're all up on the podium together."

It has been a quick transition for the former middle-distance runner Kennedy who only took up the sport three years ago, quickly becoming a standout in the Subaru National Road Series.

Lucy Kennedy 'definitely' ready for more
Lucy Kennedy (High5 Dreamteam) produced a superb performance to take bronze in the Nationals Womens Road Race behind runaway Orica-Scott pair Katrin Garfoot and Amanda Spratt.

The Amy Gillet Foundation scholarship holder really jumped to prominence when she claimed bronze in the road race at the Australian Championships in January and has now seized the opportunity in Europe.

"It definitely gives me some confidence. While the tour is not the highest level it still attracts some very strong climbers due to the nature of the courses. To be able to climb away from most of them is a great confidence builder."

A wet day added an additional element to the already difficult stage that included three categorised climbs.

"Wet weather was always going to play a part in the stage, with a lot of crashes occurring throughout. It was aggressive from the start with a break going from kilometre zero, where we were represented by Jess Pratt.

"The chase was strong though and they were caught on the first climb. Jess was then involved in a crash over the top of the climb and Shannon gave her a wheel, but unfortunately they never made it back to the fast-moving front bunch.

Lucy Kennedy awarded the 2017 Amy Gillett Cycling Scholarship
Queenslander Lucy Kennedy has been awarded the Amy Gillett Cycling Scholarship for 2017.

"Rachel, Grace and I were in the very reduced front group. Grace got into a breakaway allowing Rachel and I to sit in the bunch and follow any moves from other GC contenders.

The depth in numbers as a threat on the general classification gave the team a number of cards to play ahead of the final decisive climb.

"Approaching the major 8km climb of the day we were back together and Grace put in a mammoth effort to drive it into the base of the climb. We needed to make time on the remaining GC contenders, so I attacked with 3km of the climb remaining, bringing only one other who was down on us on GC.

"I drove the climb and then the two of us worked together for the descent and final false flat section to the finish, where I was able to finish off for the stage win."

With Kennedy now installed in the pink leaders jersey the team will face a new test in defending her lead on Sunday's final stage.

"The final stage is another very challenging one with five categorised climbs and a summit finish," Kennedy explained.

"This is the first time the team has needed to defend a leaders jersey. It will require a lot of hard work from everyone but I'm confident we've got the team to do it."

Kennedy heads into the final stage with a 29-second gap over Nilsson, with over a minute back to previous leader Leah Thomas (Sho-Air Twenty20).