Elizabeth Armitstead (Boels – Dolmans) wrapped up the overall title at the Aviva Women’s Tour Sunday, finishing with the pack at the end of a 113-kilometer stage 5, won by Cervélo – Bigla’s Lotta Lepistö.
Lepistö led a seven-rider breakaway across the line in Kettering, England, with the escapees managing to hold off the chasing peloton with just enough of a gap to contest the stage victory among themselves. Marta Bastianelli (Alé Cipollini) finished the fifth stage in second, with Elena Cecchini (Canyon – SRAM) crossing the line third.
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Lepistö’s teammate Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio joined Armitstead on the final GC podium as runner-up, while Wiggle – High5’s Elisa Longo Borghini finished in third overall.
Lepistö, Bastianelli, Cecchini, Molly Weaver (Liv – Plantur), Janneke Ensing (Parkhotel Valkenburg), Lauren Kitchen (Hitec Products), and Eugenia Bujak (BTC City Ljubljana) made up the breakaway group that spent most of the day out front. They enjoyed an advantage of over four minutes at one point before the peloton began to close down the gap.
With Weaver — who started the day 1:41 down on the overall leaderboard — posing a GC challenge off the front, Armitstead’s Boels squad dutifully led the chase to neutralize the threat. The team’s work in the bunch, combined with tactical riding in a lead group mostly interested in fighting for the stage victory, managed to shut down Weaver’s chances at the overall title.
The breakers were, however, left with around 15 seconds of an advantage coming into Kettering, leaving the stage win in the balance. Lepistö took advantage of the opportunity and took a clear sprint victory ahead of Bastianelli.
“Today was pretty hard so I went with the break,” Lepistö said. “Because my teammate was second in the overall, we had to go in the move and finally that move went and we had a pretty big gap and it stayed in the final.
“I had all the time information in my ear from the manager and he said ‘try to stay calm,’ and sometimes I wasn’t allowed to work and just wait for Ashley — but in the last 2k it was really close for the peloton to catch us, so then I was confident that I could win the sprint if the break stays.
“We worked together this tour, we are really small team but I think we have the biggest hearts the whole week. We started with five and we lost one rider during the week and now the stage win and the second on GC, I think it’s pretty amazing.”
Armitstead, Moolman-Pasio, and Longo Borghini finished together with the peloton to seal their overall podium positions.
“What a fantastic team performance it’s been,” said Armitstead. “We had quite a lot of pressure on us today with the team performing so well all week I couldn’t let them down really, so I’m relieved and happy that I did it for them.”
Armitstead, the reigning world road race champion and winner of last year’s World Cup series, now climbs to second overall in the Women’s WorldTour standings, just behind Boels teammate Megan Guarnier.