La Chapelle Saint-Ursin, France
Stage 1 Stage 2 Stage 3 Stage 4 Stage 5 Stage 6 / Final GC
Magali Le Floc'h second - AUSTRALIAN ALISON WRIGHT TAKES THE LEAD IN THE TROPHÉE D'OR
Australian Alison Wright (Team RRG Nobili) won the sprint to take the first stage of the Trophée d'Or, in the centre region of France. Wright outsprinted France's Magali Le Floc'h (RONA/Esker) and young Byelorussian Volha Hayeva of team Internations 3, one of the three composite teams formed here for this race. The first 18 riders finished in 2 hours, 30 minutes, 32 seconds, at an average speed of 38.105 km/h.
The race was held on a flat course, but the winds damaged the peloton early in the race. The stage was played shortly after mid-race when an attack by Magalie Finot Laivier (Sud Ouest Interégions) and Catherine Marsal (RONA/Esker) eventually created a more than 15-srong break, which included American Heather Albert (Internations 3), German Hanka Kupfernagel, French nationals Sandrine Marcuz-Moreau, Sonia Huguet, Belgian Evy Van Damme, Russian Zoulfia Zabirova (RRG Nobili), last year's winner Tatyana Stiajkina, and Wright, Le Floc'h and Hayeva. Such a group, combining quantity and quality, created a gap that oscillated around two minutes for a while, before exploding when the main field apparently gave up and stopped chasing. They eventually finished 6 minutes and 43 behind the leaders. A brave group of four chasers (RONA/Esker's Melissa Holt, E.S Gervais Lilas' Elisabeth Chevanne Brunel, Orléans-Pays-de-Loire's Elodie Touffet and Belgium's Heidi Van de Vilver battled to the end, and finished 1 minute 33 behind the winner.
Third in the stage and G.C., Hayeva is leading in the under 23 classification, and Australian Oenone Wood took the lead in the Queen=of-the Mountain competition by climbing first the only, very minor, difficulty of the day.
"We're well-positioned in GC", said RONA/Esker's assistant team manager Jim Williams. We have two contenders with the same time as the leader, but we won't have to defend the jersey tomorrow. I think it bodes well for the second stage."
Team RONA/Esker is one of only two Canadian women's cycling teams in the Elite Category that are recognized by the International Cycling Union. The team is made up of four Canadian racers (Geneviève Jeanson, Andrea Hannos, Carrie Tuck and Erinne Willock), French racers Catherine Marsal and Magali Le Floc'h, New Zealander Melissa Holt, German Karen Bockel and American Kristen LaSasso.
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