Arelenis Sierra (Astana) bridged to a powerful leading quintet in the final ten kilometers of the race before attacking again in the final 5km to take victory at the women’s Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race, Saturday. Lucy Kennedy and Amanda Spratt (both Mitchelton-Scott) took second and third after leaving it too late to launch their chase.
“It’s very important and I am very happy to have won this race,” said Sierra. “I felt that I was a bit tired and I hope it’s something to help me win more this season. I know that Spratt is very good, and to beat her in these circumstances is something special.”
The 113km race, set on a very similar course to Sunday’s men’s race, was a slow burn, with Ale-Cipollini controlling the pace to enable Chloe Hosking to take the first two intermediate sprints. Two brief attacks from Rachele Barbieri and Silvia Valsecchi (both BePink) were nullified by Ale-Cipollini, though Rally UHC’s Krista Doebel-Hickok was able to slip the peloton’s clutches to take the Queen of the Mountains points.
The race began to stir to life in the final 45km, with Nicole Steigenga (BePink) attacking and gaining close to two minutes of an advantage. Mitchelton-Scott and Trek-Segafredo took control of the bunch to bring the solo leader back with 20km to go.
The main climb of the day of Challambra Crescent was pivotal, falling 10km from the finish line. Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio (CCC-Liv) attacked first, drawing out Elisa Longo Borghini (Trek-Segafredo), and Spratt, with Kennedy and Chapman (Tibco-Silicon Valley Bank) joining them shortly afterward. The quintet crossed the summit close to each other and with a gap on the pack. However, Sierra was able to bridge across on the descent to make a front group of six.
Spratt attacked again, with Moolman-Pasio and Kennedy following. Sierra was initially distanced, but caught the trio with 6km to the line. Kennedy and Sierra then went clear as a pair, but with 4km to go, Sierra launched her winning move, leaving Kennedy unable to follow. The distanced Kennedy was then joined by teammate Spratt in an attempt to chase down the Cuban, but the Astana rider was able to hold on and win by 19 seconds, with Kennedy taking second, Spratt third.
“It’s a win, I won’t say it was impossible, because I started with the ambition of winning, and I am grateful that I had the legs to win,” said Sierra. “And I am thankful to all the people who support me. I was ahead with [Lucy Kennedy] and I told her to pull, but I don’t know if she was waiting for her team. That’s when I decided to go alone and I knew it would be difficult to win against two from the same team, so I went all or nothing.”
“Sierra had an amazing ride – we know from Europe last year, she was getting WorldTour podiums,” said third-place Spratt. “She was up there in a lot of those really harder, hilly races, so she’s certainly a strong rider. It was going well, up that final climb Lucy [Kennedy] got away, which was good, and then Arlenis got across to her. She was just so strong and Lucy couldn’t quite just get there.”
|1||Arlenis Sierra (Astana)||3:07:10|
|2||Lucy Kennedy (Mitchelton-Scott)||0:00:19|
|3||Amanda Spratt (Mitchelton-Scott)||“|
|4||Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio (CCC-Liv)||0:00:34|
|5||Elisa Longo Borghini (Trek-Segafredo)||“|
|6||Brodie Chapman (Tibco-Silicon Valley Bank)||“|
|7||Rachel Neylan (KordaMenthe Real Estate)||0:00:39|
|8||Emily Roper (KordaMenthe Real Estate)||0:00:55|
|9||Ruth Winder (Trek-Segafredo)||“|
|10||Grace Brown (Mitchelton-Scott)||“|