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Amy Pieters wins Aviva Women’s Tour Stage two in rainy Stratford-upon-Avon

Wiggle High5 Pro Cycling’s Amy Pieters took a sensational victory in the second stage of the Aviva Women’s Tour as heavy rain fell on the finish in historic Stratford-upon-Avon. The Dutch all-rounder was the strongest of a 27-rider lead group on the gently rising finishing straight in the birthplace of William Shakespeare, beating 2015 race winner Lisa Brennauer (Canyon-SRAM) by half a wheel, with multiple World Champion Marianne Vos (Rabo-Liv) just behind them in third.

“At first I was a bit – not really shocked – but surprised,” Pieters said afterwards. “I said to Giorgia [Bronzini] ‘I will help you with the lead out,’ because I was in a perfect situation, and I went quite early. I thought I have to do it, and maybe Giorgia’s in my wheel, and I won it!

“The first thing I said to Giorgia was: ‘Oh sorry!’ but this is what we fight for the whole year, and I hope we can have more this week – and this year.

“I think maybe it was because I was so relaxed, and I wanted to help Giorgia in the final. Maybe that’s how you can do a good sprint; if you are not stressed, and you stay calm. Actually, it was perfect.”

The 140km stage was far hillier than the previous day, but the pace of the bunch still made it almost impossible for any breakaway hopefuls to escape. The most dangerous move came from Amalie Dideriksen (Boels-Dolmans) and Malgorzata Jasinska (Alé-Cipollini), who got away inside the final 30km. They were able to get almost a minute clear, but were caught shortly after the second QOM climb in Ilmington with just 20km to go.

The pace up this second climb was what saw the decisive 27-rider group get clear of the rest of the peloton, with five Wiggle High3 Pro Cycling riders present, from which Pieters was able to sprint to her first ever Women’s WorldTour victory.

“It was a hard day, with some rain and a lot of hills,” Pieters explained. “We did a really good job with the team; we were all there. We have such a strong team out here this week, so we can play a lot of cards, and I’m happy that I could finish it today.

“I can be fast in the sprint, but I’m not a real, real sprinter, so I can also do hills like this – the smaller ones. The long ones are harder for me, but those like this are perfect for me. The others are more tired and it makes it even harder, and so I’m happy that I could do this.

“I think I’m fine with this weather,” she said of the heavy rain that fell on much of the stage. “Once you’ve started it’s not a big problem because you’re so focused on the race, and it’s not that cold so actually I liked it!”

Wiggle Honda Pro Cycling’s Swedish Champion Emma Johansson and former two-time road World Champion Giorgia Bronzini crossed the line in sixth and seventh places respectively, with Elisa Longo Borghini and Dani King safely in the group behind them. Time bonuses on the line mean that Pieters has moved up to third place overall, just seven seconds behind new race leader Vos, while the other three black and orange riders sit poised inside the top-14.

“We are so strong,” Pieters concluded. “The whole team is so strong. I’m looking forward to racing with everyone this week, and to do good races.

1. Amy Pieters (Wiggle High5 Pro Cycling)

2. Lisa Brennauer (Canyon-SRAM)
3. Marianne Vos (Rabo-Liv)

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