Team Classification Prize Within Reach With One Stage Remaining
Optum Pro Cycling presented by Kelly Benefit Strategies captured two top ten finishes today in stage four of England’s Women’s Tour. Lauren Hall and Leah Kirchmann sprinted in tandem to finish 6th and 7th, respectively, in a stage claimed once again by world champion Marianne Vos.
The team was glad for their second consecutive result, but left wanting more with one day of racing remaining.
“We were in good position heading into the finish, but there was a really crazy sequence of turns before the final straightway, and it made it tough to time the sprint,” said Hall. “We are always happy to get top tens, but I think everyone knows we can do better. We have one day left to prove that here in the UK and we are all extremely motivated to make it happen.”
The orange and black’s efforts at the front of the race moved them into pole position on the team classification – a prize given to the team with the overall fastest time at the end of the week’s 310 miles of racing. Four other teams remain in the hunt for the prize, all tied just four seconds behind Optum p/b KBS.
“When I got the results today, I was definitely pleased that we were leading the team classification,” said Performance Director Kevin Field. “It gives us a great goal to shoot for besides just a stage win on the last day of racing, and I know this team is more than capable of pulling it off.”
The 55-mile journey from Cheshunt to beautiful Welwyn Garden City was not without its chaotic moments – a commissaire car struck a median in the opening moments, causing several riders to crash and pausing the race momentarily. Optum p/b KBS survived the wreck unscathed, and the race rapidly gathered pace over the technical, uphill opening miles.
Janel Holcomb placed herself in the breakaway of the day, which came unravelled when a traffic accident up the road caused officials to briefly neutralize the race. When things resumed, the officials consolidated the peloton and the stage was set for one final dash to the line.
With just four seconds separating Optum p/b KBS from four of the race’s top teams for the overall team prize, tomorrow’s undulating 67 mile journey from Harwich to Bury St Edmunds will make for an interesting tactical battle.