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Route de France: Chloe Hosking wins stage three; Amy Pieters still leads

Wiggle High5 Pro Cycling’s Chloe Hosking has won the third stage of the Route de France Feminine, between St-Sauveur-en-Puisaye and Nevers, as the peloton finished in a bunch sprint. The Australian sprinter, whose last win in France came on the iconic Avenue des Champs-Elysées in Paris, comfortably outpaced Elise Delzenne (Lotto-Soudal) on the uphill finishing straight, with Roxane Fournier (Poitou.Charentes-Futuroscope) behind them in third place.

Having taken the overall race lead in the opening time trial, Wiggle High5 Pro Cycling’s Dutchwoman Amy Pieters holds on to her gold jersey as the race approaches its halfway point.

“It was a bit of a crazy stage actually,” Hosking said. “There were a lot of crashes, so both Amy Pieters and I came down in a crash with just over 20km to go. But Amy got back up quickly – better than me a little bit – and I just made my way back, and was probably back in the peloton with 20km to go.

“Then the girls did a really fantastic job, but putting me in position for the sprint.”

With much of Hosking’s career at Wiggle High5 Pro Cycling having been in the service of her teammates – particularly in leading out Belgian sprinter Jolien D’hoore – the Australian is relishing her current role as the team’s protected sprinter.

“I’m really proud of how we rode today,” said Hosking. “Nobody was missing; Mayuko [Hagiwara] was there in the beginning, and Amy Roberts and Lucy [Garner]; they really rose to the occasion today. Then Dani [King] is also having a great race.

“So it was a really, really good team effort, and I was happy to be able to pull it off in the finish.”

With an uphill drag to the finish, a bunch sprint was far from certain, and Hosking was forced to act to respond to a last-minute breakaway attempt.

“It was an uphill drag for maybe the last 200 metres,” she explained. “Sarah Roy [Orica-BikeExchange] must have jumped away with about 300 metres to go, and she had a bit of a gap on me and the Futuroscope girl. I was watching, watching, until I just thought ‘I’d better go now,’ and I went quite early again. I closed the gap to Sarah, then came round her.

“My partner said it was a close finish, but I don’t think it was!” Hosking laughed. “Elise Delzenne was on my wheel, so I had plenty of time to put my hands in the air!”

As the team of the defending champion in the Route de France, after Elisa Longo Borghini’s victory last year, Wiggle High5 Pro Cycling is the team to watch this time. With a few years away from the race, however, Hosking can see how much it is developing and improving.

“It’s been a really nice Tour,” Hosking confirmed. “The last time I did this was four years ago after the London Olympics, and it’s been a lot better than I remembered. It’s nice to see the race stepping up, and becoming bigger. It feels like there’s more people around, and a bigger organisation, so it’s been really good so far.

“It’s a time trial tomorrow, so I’ll be on a rest day!” she joked. “But obviously we’ve got the jersey, so we’ll be defending that in the next days.”

1. Chloe Hosking (Wiggle High5 Pro Cycling)

2. Elise Delzenne (Lotto-Soudal)
3. Roxane Fournier (Poitou.Charentes-Futuroscope)

Photo Credit: Jean-Marc Hecquet

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