Lauren Stephens comes back to the Team car during a 40 kilometer breakaway in Strade Bianche.
The third edition of the women’s Strade Bianche race started under cloudy skies with a threat of rain. Almost 140 riders took to the line for the first race in the 2017 Women’s World Tour including both previous winners, Megan Gaurnier (2015) and Lizzie Armistead. (2016).
Several attacks were initiated early in the 128-kilometer race, but it was all together with 75 kilometers to go. The fifth section of gravel split the race into pieces with forty riders going clear. From this lead group, Astana’s Lara Vieceli initiated an attack that was matched by Team TIBCO – Silicon Valley Bank’s Lauren Stephens and Sunweb’s Floortje Mackaij. The trio established a two-minute lead on the main group before Vieceli was dropped. Stephens and Mackaij were caught with just 12 kilometers to go, after 40 kilometers off the front.
Another strong break of five went away in heavy rain. The remaining few kilometers of the race were full of attacks and Longo-Borghini (Wiggle High 5) eventually took the lead on the last climb into Siena and held on for the victory. Lauren Stephens rode a very strong race to finish in the top 20 after riding in such a long breakaway.
“Today was my second-time racing Strade Bianche” said team Captain Lauren Stephens. “I had the goal of a top 10 result but I had not planned to go in a long breakaway. Overall I'm happy with our race today and I am looking forward to a strong season."
“I am pretty happy with the team’s efforts today” said Director Sportif Ed Beamon. “Our goal was to get Lauren, Ingrid and Brianna in the finale. We kept in good position and we were able to avoid the carnage that is usually present in this race. We were also pleased with our tire/wheel combination; equipment is critical to performance in Strade Bianche. Our Aerosport Edco Umbria Light wheels with Maxxis 28mm Velocita tires responded well to the conditions and we did not have one puncture while everyone around us was suffering. “
Main image credit: Ian Walton, http://www.themusette.cc/