Brianna Walle got an early jump on the queen of the mountain competition at La Route de France, taking the jersey in stage 2 after being the first rider up the race’s first categorized climb, the Côte de Méry Es Bois. The climb came around the 90 km mark, the only spike on a mostly flat, 118 km route south of Paris from Villemandeur to Bourges.
“It was definitely a surprise today,” said Walle, known more for her sprinting and time trialing ability than her legs on categorized climbs. “The sprint was a gradual uphill drag – not your usual climb. Our original plan was that Maura Kinsella would go for the sprint – Leah Kirchmann and I led it out for Maura, and I took it to the line with her on my wheel. There were a lot of riders sprinting for it and the line came up much faster than we anticipated, so I ended up taking top points. We’ll take it!”
Stage 2 was just a preview of the climbing in store in the later stages as the race moves further east towards Switzerland and the edge of the Alps.
“It is our responsibility now to defend the blue jersey as well as staying in the hunt for stage wins,” said Performance Director Patrick McCarty. “We have just scratched the surface of the climbing this week, but its always nice to start the fight from a good position.”
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