Lauren Hall second, Numainville follows up with 3rd in stage five.
The Optum Pro Cycling presented by Kelly Benefits Strategies women began the Tour Cycliste Feminin International de l’Ardeche with the intention of building form for next months Team Time Trial World Championships in Tuscany, Italy and hunting for wins in the process. They showed the world that their form is securely in place when Canadian road race champion Joelle Numainville took a hard fought victory in stage four, with teammate and leadout Lauren Hall finishing second.
Numainville and her teammates targeted the difficult 111 km. stage from Le Pouzin to Cruas for the sprint finish. Featuring three major climbs and undulating terrain until the final 10 km. run in to the finish, the stage created substantial difficulty for the peloton. Numainville and her teammates showed that their fitness and teamwork is on par with Europe’s best.
“The team rode exceptionally well today: despite a hard tempo being set by the race leaders BePink team, which whittled down the bunch significantly, we were in a great position with Joelle, Leah, Lauren and Denise all making it over the climbs,” said Performance Director Rachel Heal. “With a strong lead group of 40 or so riders coming in towards the final few kilometers, it was clear the winner would come from that group. The team timed the lead-out perfectly for Joelle, and lead through the final turn at 600 meters to go, and closed strong to take the 1-2 finish.”
Unfortunately, Jade Wilcoxson was taken down in a crash just three kilometers into the race as riders fought for position heading into the intermediate sprint and first climb of the day. Fortunately, she didn’t sustain any major injuries, was able to climb back on her bike and finish the stage, and will continue to race.
More Success for Canadian road race champion in Stage Five.
Hoping to build off their success in stage four, the ladies of the Orange and Black approached the queen stage, a 118 km. trip from Saint Sauveur de Montagut to Villeneuve de Berg, with added confidence.
“On stage five, we came agonizingly close to another stage win,” said Heal. “With the peloton reduced to roughly 30 riders after the first major climb and Joelle, Denise, and Lauren making the split, we were one of only a few teams with 3 riders in the front group.”
Over the next two climbs the front group was whittled down further, and on the final descent, two riders attacked and the group split apart. Numainville, Ramsden, and Hall chase hard and bridged a sizable gap, but unfortunately the two riders stayed away from the hard chase. Numainville took the bunch kick for third.
Following the conclusion of the Tour Cycliste Feminin International de l’Ardeche, the ladies head to the Giro della Toscana, a five day stage race in Tuscany very close to the World Championship venue, as they continue their preparation for the world championship.