Canadian Criterium Champ and teammates battle world’s best in Clacton-on-Sea
Leah Kirchmann battled crashes and relentless wind conditions to sprint to 6th place in stage 3 of the Women’s Tour, a 56-mile trip from Felixstowe to Clacton-on-Sea. The Orange and Black delivered a picturesque leadout over the closing kilometers for the current Canadian criterium champion, allowing the young rider to go head to head against some of the world’s top sprinters, including stage winner and reigning world champion Marianne Vos (Rabo-Liv).
“There were lots of attacks coming into town in the final 5 kilometers, but it was so windy that nobody could stay away. The team did a great job today – we wanted to be more assertive, and Janel (Holcomb) worked hard to mark those final attacks. We lost Lauren (Hall) in the final few kilometers but fortunately I was still able to find the right wheel and have a chance at the sprint.”
Hall suffered an untimely mechanical malfunction that knocked her out of the run to the line, but the team’s concerted efforts were enough to capture a top ten on a surprising day of racing.
“Going into the stage, there was a lot of talk about how the wind would make today’s race decisive. It was definitely windy, but the I think the amount of direction changes on the course made it tough for team’s to time their attacks well,” said Performance Director Kevin Field. “We talked this morning about the necessity of capitalizing on every opportunity at a race of this caliber, and the women did a wonderful job reading the race conditions and getting Leah where she needed to be.”
Kirchmann, Holcomb, and Hall all battled back from crashes in a slick second stage, which saw Holcomb pay a visit to the hospital to check the status of her ankle. Kirchmann reopened a gash in her left knee in her tumble, but all three were able to start and finish today’s stage.
The team resumes the podium hunt tomorrow in a 55-mile trip from Cheshunt to Welwyn Garden City.