26th International Thueringen Rundfahrt der Frauen
Stage 2 -Carmen Small sprints to victory
Carmen Small (Specialized Lululemon) was the strongest sprinter in the bunch ahead of Marta Tagliaferro (McCipollini Giordana) and race leader Emma Johansson (Orica-AIS).
The stage was designed for a sprint finish, although the parcours was not pan flat. The stage included some tough short climbs of 9% gradient. Despite a number of teams initially trying to get a large group away, it was only two riders that managed to get the break. Chloe McConville (Australian National Team) and Anna Bianca Schnitzmeier (Wiggle Honda) managed to escape with 55 kms to go. The pair went on the approach to Apolda, when the break-away attempts were getting more and more serious. Initiated by Schnitzmeier the pair quickly gained a gap. The peloton were content to let them go and the pair managed to gain a maximum of a 3 minute 30 second lead before Orica-AIS decided to up the pace and work to close down the gap. Of the two escapees Schnitzmeier was the one who was a threat to the overall general classification. Schnitzmeier was only 14 seconds behind Johansson at the start of the stage and gained valuable extra seconds during the escape.
With 43km left, the gap was coming down quire quickly. As the peloton passed the Jena, the gap was down to 1 minute 55 seconds. With 25km to go, the two leaders were facing a slight head wind on the long run in to the finish and their lead was down to 37 seconds. The paced slowed a little from the chase and the gap started to go out again as the leaders approached the final 18.2km loop of Hermsdorf.
By the time the race reached 10km to go, the gap was closed and peloton was in tact. A fast descent on a cobbled section of road strung the peloton out and at the base a 90 degree right hand turn caused disruption. The few of the leading riders crashed and it caused a split in the bunch. A number of key riders were involved in the crash, including Ellen van Dijk (Specialized Lululemon). With only 6 km to the finish, the crash split the peloton in two, with 16 riders in the lead. They refrained from taking any advantage of the situation. Specialized Lululemon dropped back to assist van Dijk back to the front group and the peloton were all together again by 3km to go. The fast run into the finish included a 1km straight run. The teams of the sprinters were all trying to lead out their nominated riders, including Specialized Lululemon although they only had a couple of riders towards the front.
The sprint of the peloton started at 400m to go. At 50m to go, Small, Tagliaferro and Johansson all found the gaps they needed to see the line. Small was the strongest and crossed the line just ahead of the small Italian sprinter and overall leader Johansson.
Carmen Small (Specialized Lululemon) proved to be the fastest. “We had planned to get a rider into a break-away”, she explained after her first stage win on the Tour of Thüringen. “As we didn’t deliver, the whole team had to put in all effort to close the gap on Anna Bianca [Schnitzmeier] and Chloe [McConville], and did a great job of it. Some 2 km from the finish, I discussed with Lisa [Brennauer] who would compete in the sprint for our team. I said get on my wheel and she told me, no it is up to you, your legs are better today. She was right,"said Small
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