By VeloNews Interactive
World women’s road champion Zinaida Stahurskaia (GAS Sport) showed that this year’s Tour de Snowy would not be the exclusive realm of Saturn’s hometown favorite Anna Millward as she rode away from the field on the first major climb of this five-day, season opening Australian stage race. But Millward, too, proved herself to be a worthy competitor as the Australian worked tirelessly to catch Stahurskaia in the closing kilometers of the day’s 77.3 km stage, preserving her lead in the overall standings.
Stahurskaia had been touted as Millward’s biggest threat, even as the Australian charged her way through the opening two days of the Tour de Snowy, winning three of the first four stages. Monday’s Thredbo to Khancoban stage moved the field into the hills and away from the Tour’s opening pattern of short, fast stages ending in field sprints. Despite a deceiving course profile, which suggested a largely downhill stage, the road to Khancoban featured a healthy dose of climbing, beginning with the Cat. I ascent of Scammell’s Ridge.
It was there that GAS Sport’s Belarussian world champion moved to the front, shattering the main field into small groups and apparently leaving Millward behind.
But Millward — the 1999 World Cup champion — is not one to give up easily and mounted a furious chase that brought her back onto Stahurskaia’s wheel with just three kilometers to go. Stahurskaia managed to beat the exhausted Australian in a the closing uphill sprint, but Millward had managed to preserve her overall lead, a task that may not be so easy on Tuesday, as the stage will finish in Cabramurra atop a long and difficult climb.
Tour de Snowy, Stage 5, Thredbo – Khancoban
1. Zinaida Stahurskaia (Blr), GAS Sport, 77.3km in 2:07:37 (36.3kph)
2. Anna Millward (Aus), Saturn
3. Priska Doppmann (Swi), Acca Due O-H.P., at 1:45
4. Kim Shirley (Aus), Australian Institute of Sport
5. Anke Erlank (RSA), Saturn
6. Kim Bruckner (USA), Saturn, all s.t.
7. Margaret Hemsley (Aus), Australian Institute of Sport, at 2:31
8. Mari Holden (USA), Alfa Lum R.S.M.
9. Mirjam Melchers (Nl) Acca Due O-H.P., both s.t.
10. Hayley Rutherford (Aus), Australian Institute of Sport, at 3:40
Overall after five stages
1. Millward, 6:32:42
2. Stahurskaia, at 0:47
3. Erlank, at 2:53
4. Shirley, at 3:00
5. Doppmann, at 3:15