Windy conditions on stage three of Women's Tour play into Marianne Vos's hands as she takes overall lead
Marianne Vos described the relentless action during the windswept third stage of the Friends Life Women’s Tour between Felixstowe and Clacton-on-Sea today as “fun” and compared it to racing in the Netherlands.
The world champion sprinted to victory in the Essex seaside town to move into the race lead this afternoon with only two stages remaining.
Strong westerly winds blasted the peloton throughout, and resulted in continual attacks for the duration of the 90.5-kilometres stage.
However, the race came down to a bunch sprint, where the Rabo-Liv rider beat Emma Johansson (Orica-AIS) in a reverse of stage one’s result.
“The last 400m were just a normal bunch sprint, “said Vos. “But the rest of the stage was really tough; to stay in front, it was a battle for position.
“Because of the wind it was difficult, but it was fun. It was really hard, which meant the best riders were up front and trying to get in breakaways.”
Because of the testing conditions, Vos said that she owed a huge debt to her team-mates.
The Dutch rider added: “It’s [teamwork] 90% of the work. Of course, you have to be there yourself, but you can’t control the bunch, you can’t control every attack.
“In the end it was clear that it was hard to stay away. The team tried to be in every breakaway, but also to control the race. I said I felt good, so if it was going to end in a bunch sprint, that would be my role.”
“It felt Dutch out there today – but we don’t have that many hedges to take away the wind!
“The wind felt Dutch, the winding roads felt Dutch, but I’m going to take some hedges back home to train somewhere more easily.”
Vos leads Johansson by eight seconds on GC – an amount she believes is insignificant given the time bonuses available during each stage.
“It’s not a lot if you think about there being three, two and one seconds available twice a stage [at the intermediate sprints] and then 10 seconds on finish line. It’s open.
“[We’ll approach it] like the last two stages: we’ll be at the front, and we’ll try to never miss any dangerous breakaways and control the race.
“But with the winds, and probably the rain tomorrow, I expect a hard race again. The other teams will try to get me out of yellow. It’s going to be tough.”