Route de France 2013
Stage 2 -Brinzini makes it two in a row
Enghien Les Bains - Mantes La Jolie, 893 km
Giorgia Bronzini (Wiggle Honda) sprinted to her second straight stage victory in stage two of the Route de France, between Enghien-les-Bains and Mantes-la-Jolie Bronzini finished more than a length clear of the rest of the field, with Ashleigh Moolman (Lotto-Belisol) taking second place, ahead of Thalita de Jong (Rabobank-Liv/Giant) Emma Johansson(Orica-AIS) powered to fifth place, to retain the orange leader's jersey after three days of racing The Swede survived a hectic day in the reduced bunch with strong support from her Orica-AIS teammates With no changes to the top of the general classification, Villumsen still sits in second place overall, just one second behind Johansson Amy Pieters (Argos-Shimano) still sits 2 seconds back
Although the second stage of the Route de France was the shortest, it provided constant challenges The opening part of the stage featured narrow roads, small towns with an abundance of road furniture and technical corners Despite the brisk wind, and the fact that the peloton split for the second day in a row, there were no opportunities for anybody to attack and the stage was heading for another sprint Around the mid-point of the race, Valentina Scandolara (MCipollini-Giordana) escaped the bunch in a solo move The peloton looked to Orica-AIS to react and they closed the gap Alexandra Burchenkova (RusVelo) countered the catch, and quickly put daylight between herself and the field Within only a handful of kilometres, her lead hovered around the minute mark Johansson sent her teammates to the front to organise the chase, supported by Wiggle Honda The concerted effort from the two teams had reduced the gap to 55 seconds with 10km left to race As the peloton hit the lower slopes of the last and most significant hill of the stage, Team USA launched repeated attacks In the end however Orica-AIS and Wiggle Honda had done enough to bring the race to a final bunch sprint
Giorgia Bronzini (Wiggle Honda) was happy with her second win, "Today was a little bit shorter and because of that there were so many attacks from the start," said Bronzini "It was a little bit harder, with some climbs and wind today In the final 25km there was one Russian girl that attacked, and had one minute - or one minute and a half - so I spoke together with [race leader Emma] Johansson and we decided to chase together So she put her [Orica-AIS] teammates, and I put my teammates on the front and Lotte Becker, Lauren Kitchen and Mayuko Hagiwara did a really, really good job Linda Villumsen reserved her power for an attack in the final, and I reserved my power for a possible sprint"
"We arrived at the finish in a bunch," Bronzini explained "The last corner was at 300 metres, and the finish was a little bit of a climb, which is my favourite sprint I was in the wheel of Lizzie Armitstead [Lotto-Belisol], after Lauren had led me there - so she did a great job again - and I started my sprint at 150 metres, and it was good! When I saw that the finish was a little bit uphill I thought 'it is one of my favourites, and I will go with all my power,"she smiled "Linda said that she was not so good today at the start, so I told her to reserve her power for the next stage when she feels better So we'll try something tomorrow because, if the wind is like today, tomorrow's stage is longer and maybe in the final we can try to do something for her, to try to take the jersey" Should the peloton arrive at the finish line all together again, however, it will be hard to bet against Bronzini going three from three "Maybe, maybe, but it's a secret!" added Bronzini
Emma Johansson (Orica-AIS) had a tough day in the saddle, "It was a busy day," said Johansson "We thought it would be a bit easier We were a outnumbered again in the finish because we had to use a lot of the team to chase back a late break That made it hard for us In another way, I like it when we have to battle and really get to race our bikes I like being tired at the finish It's a good feeling" "The profile was not accurate," noted Johansson "I was expecting a bit more flat and open roads After the neutral section, we rode through small towns with lots of obstacles, so it was stress from the very beginning" "We did a few attacks to bring back Scandolara," said Johansson
"It didn't take too long to return her to the bunch The increase in speed made the other girls suffer" Chasing the attack from Burchenkova, "Nettie [Annette Edmondson], Gracie [Elvin]and Gu [Sung Eun] did the chase work, but the Russian continued to gain time," Johansson said "It went out to 1'40 maximum They had to ride even harder Luckily, a few riders from Wiggle Honda started to work They wanted things to come back together for their sprinter" "It was quite a lot like yesterday," explained Johansson
"The bunch split A group of maybe 20 riders formed off the front Tiff [Tiffany Cromwell] and I were the group We were outnumbered again, and it was hard to cover all the attacks that came between just the two of us" "The last corner was a sketchy one," said Johansson "There was a road divider that split the group before the corner Some went on the left of the road Some went on the right I went on the right, and I had to take the inside line The girl in front of me hit her brakes, so I had to brake a little, too I nearly died trying to get up to speed again, but I managed fifth in the end" "It's a relief," said Johansson "It would be nice to have a crack at a stage with the sprinters we have here and see what we can do with our train, but it's hard for them when we're racing so aggressively We need to cover anything important that goes down the road If we let someone go down the road, we're not sprinting for the victory anyway, and we're not interested in that"
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