Today saw Stage One of the Santos Women’s Tour Down Under take place – a 59km road stage from Woodside on the outskirts of Adelaide to Murray Bridge, in true Aussie plain talking style, a town with a bridge over the Murray river!
Valentina Scandolara, the Italian riding with the Orica AIS team clinched the win, launching a breakaway from about 12 km out. Despite a tricky finish that included a 1km uphill drag, she managed to hold off the chase from a strong bunch including most of the main protagonists from Wiggle and Roxsolt.
The pace of the race caused most of the damage, reducing the peloton down to around 25 riders before Scandolara launched her successful attack. This was one of numerous attacks – @cyclingtips on Twitter was in the Roxsolt team car and reported the #attackcount being up to 13 before giving up. Even the Aussie rail network had an influence on the stage as it was neutralised at one point whilst the riders got held up waiting for a train to pass through a level crossing.
Once Scandolara got away, her job was made a little easier by Giorgia Bronzini’s puncture about 8km from the finish. Even so, a group of 17 riders managed to get back to contest a bunch sprint for second, timed at 6 seconds after Valentina’s arrival. with another big group slightly further back at 42 seconds.
The stage was so fast that it finished 15 mins ahead of schedule and almost embarrassed the organisers as the finish line was almost not ready in time. It was so disorganised that the finish arch was only put in place minutes before the leader crossed the line (with the assistance of some of the meagre crowd) and was 10 metres away from where it should have been. If the race had come down to a bunch sprint this would have confused the hell out of the riders.
Leaders Jersey: Valentina Scandolara
Sprint jersey: Lauren Kitchen
QOM jersey: Lauren Kitchen
One advantage of the informal atmosphere is that we managed to get some decent photos from the start and finish and also managed to get a few interviews including one with the stage winner. Please forgive the stuttering interview technique – it’s the first time I’ve done them!
Pre Race Interviews
Post Race Interviews
Stage 1 finish-line video:
Cycling Australia’s short highlights
ORICA’s video from Stage 1
High 5 Dream Team before the race
and at Stage 1
Follow the race as it happens with the #TDUwomen twitter hashtag, and Gethin and Nikki’s preview – and if you want to hear more about Valentina, I interviewed her just before the race, and we talked about everything from how joining ORICA helped her re-learn cycling and the state of Italian racing, to how it felt when she had to pull out of Worlds with a heart problem. Listen to it here.