Mitchelton-Scott’s dominance of the Women’s Tour Down Under continued with Grace Brown taking stage victory in stage 3, Saturday. The Australian national time trial champion won in the sprint, while her team kept control of the leader’s jersey, held by Amanda Spratt.
“I am really happy,” said Brown. “I have come into some really good form lately and I have really enjoyed this Tour, doing lots of work for the team and it is awesome they rewarded me with letting me have a go on today’s stage.”
The 105-kilometer hilly stage was raced at high speeds despite strong winds. Mitchelton-Scott controlled the peloton throughout the race as they looked to protect Spratt’s lead on GC. The pace and winds limited attacks, though Chloe Hosking (Ale Cipollini) took the first intermediate sprint ahead of Alison Jackson (Team Tibco-Silicon Valley Bank) and Sarah Roy (Mitchelton-Scott).
Tetiana Riabchenko (Doltcini-Van Eyck Sport) escaped the bunch halfway through the stage and took the mountain points on Red Gum Hill ahead of Nadia Quagliotto (Ale Cipollini).
Jackson took the second intermediate sprint ahead of Roy, with the latter now only two points ahead in the sprint jersey competition over Jackson with only one stage remaining.
The stage finished on a circuit around Stirling that is a regular feature of the men’s Tour Down Under, but was making its first appearance in the women’s race. The race was briefly neutralized in the final 10km as riders were sent the wrong direction at a junction, though when racing restarted Mitchelton-Scott soon took control, with stage winner Brown setting the pace on behalf of her team before launching a 700-meter sprint on the slight uphill drag to the line. Trek-Segafredo’s Ruth Winder and Rachel Neylan (UniSA-Australia) finished second and third respectively. Race leader Spratt finished fifth.
“[It was] another great day for the team,” said Spratt. “Most of the stage they were just controlling it and making sure nothing dangerous got up the road, which was perfect, and then we said in the final we really wanted to work for Grace [Brown], and actually Grace had already done a monster amount of work on the front in that final 10km and just never died in the lead out.”
The race concludes Sunday with a criterium in central Adelaide. Mitchelton-Scott have first and second place on GC, with Spratt leading Lucy Kennedy by 49 seconds. Krista Doebel-Hickok (Rally UHC Cycling) is 55 seconds behind the race leader.