Lauren Stephens took the win today on the same Highlands course that she won on in 2014. Stephens sprinted to victory out of a splintered break in the last few hundred meters of the race.
How it unfolded:
With 11 of 14 laps of the 2.8-mile circuit still to be raced, race leader Amber Neben and QOM leader Katie Hall were off the front in an 11-rider group that included three Team TIBCO-Silicon Valley Bank riders. The dangerous group was quickly neutralized by a strong chase from the field and a counter attack formed including Team TIBCO - Silicon Valley Bank's Lauren Stephens.
The 7-rider break gained over a minute advantage with three laps to go and that gap was still holding at 55 seconds with two laps to go. With a lap to go, Lauren Stephens was driving the break with help from Lindsay Bayer, Rushlee Buchanan and Leah Thomas but the gap had decreased to 25 seconds. With the finish line approaching and the bunch closing fast, Lauren timed her sprint perfectly to take the victory by several bike lengths over Thomas and Buchanan.
Ed Beamon commented:
"Today was a tough circuit race with a really hard finishing straight. Our goal today was the stage win. The team was very alert and covered the breaks really well. Lauren did an amazing job marshaling the break but in the latter laps the bunch was coming back fast. A dramatic but great finish, and an impressive team effort."
This was a great comeback for Lauren after her mechanical in the individual time trial. The time trial specialist was on a great ride, having overtaken five riders and passing her sixth rider, her two-minute person. Unfortunately, no team cars were allowed to follow the riders and Lauren had to fix the problem herself and eventually finished over two minutes down on the leader.
"After my disappointment of the time trial I changed my focus to this stage and felt confident with the finish. You take opportunities a race gives you and today I made the right choice and got in the counter attack"
Another team member that has been riding strong on stages one and two is first year rider Kate Buss. Kate finished 7th in the time trial and 5th on the Oak Glen mountain stage, which put her 4th in the overall GC.