By VeloNews Interactive
Dutchwoman Mirjam Melchers took the early overall lead in the fifth running of the Tour de Snowy after winning stage 1’s 77km ride from Khancoban to Tumbarumba in Australia on Monday.
The 26-year-old crossed the line in 2:22:27, proving too strong in the sprint for Switzerland’s Priska Doppmann, with reigning Australian national champion Margaret Hemsley in third.
All told, 69 riders lined up for the first of five stages. After some early but unsuccessful attacks, a group of seven riders broke away at the 43km mark, just as the peloton approached the first of the day’s two climbs.
It was at the base of this Cat. 1 climb that a selection of seven was made. Saturn’s Kim Bruckner and Judith Arndt were joined by Melchers (Farm Frites), Roz Reekie-May, Doppmann, Hemsley, and Suzanne Ljungskog (Vlaanderen).
By the end of the day the group had nearly 1:30 over the next group, making the next two days and four stages a battle of seven. Saturn was the only team to have two riders make the selection, giving them valuable options in the upcoming days. But Melchers will be tough to beat after winning both mountain sprints and the final time bonus.
A day earlier Arndt overtook Australian teammate Anna Millward (not racing due to injury) to claim the world No. 1 ranking. Melchers’ performance moved her to No. 2 with Millward now third.
This year, Snowy has been shortened to a three-day, five-stage race due to budgetary restrictions. Stage 2 is a 69km run from Tumbarumba to Tumut.
TOUR DE SNOWY, Australia. March 4-6; Stage 1: Khancoban to Tumbarumba; 1. Mirjam Melchers (Nl), 77km in 2:22:27; 2. Priska Doppmann (Swi), International Composite; 3. Margaret Hemsley (Aus), Australian National; 4. Susanne Ljungskog (Swe), Vlaanderen; 5. Judith Arndt (G), Saturn; 6. Kimberly Bruckner (USA), Saturn; 7. Roz Reekie-May (NZ), all same time; 8. Catherine Marsal (F), at 1:25; 9. Emma James (Aus), NSWIS Trek; 10. Bridget Evans (Aus), Cycle Cooma, all same time; Also; 15. Kimberly Anderson (USA), Cannondale USA, same time; 24. Dorothy Cowden (USA), Cannondale USA, at 4:53; 33. Jessica Phillips (USA), Saturn, at 5:33; 35. Katrina Berger (USA), Cannondale USA, at 9:22; 42. Mari Holden (USA), Cannondale USA, same time
Overall standings; 1. Melchers, 2:21:51; 2. Doppmann, at 0:09; 3. Hemsley, at 0:20; 4. Ljungskog, at 0:28; 5. Bruckner, at 0:29; 6. Reekie-May, at 0:34; 7. Arndt, at 0:36; 8. Marsal, at 2:01; 9. James; 10. Evans, both same time; Also; 15. Anderson, same time; 24. Cowden, at 5:39; 33. Phillips, at 6:09; 35. Berger, at 9:58; 42. Holden, same time