Elena Cecchini sprinted to third place today in the final stage of the Aviva Women's Tour in Kettering. The CANYON//SRAM Racing rider finished behind Lotta Lepistö (CBT) and Marta Bastianelli (ALE) after a seven rider break survived by metres to the finish.
The final stage from Northampton to Kettering was an undulating 113km and finally in sunny conditions for the peloton. On the back of four tough stages, the seven rider break went away on the first QOM, at around 30km into the race. With a team mate (Moolman) sitting second in the general classification Lepistö had the advantage of being able to sit on. "Lepistö was probably going to be faster than me but with her not having to work then it made it even harder. Today was my worst day in the tour but we wanted to be in the break and I was there. When Lisa pulled out during the race then we knew this was one of our best chances to get a victory," said Cecchini.
"In the final sprint I took the last roundabout at 500m to go in good position, I was fourth. Coming around the last corner I was held up a little bit and then it was all I could do with my legs to get third."
Read further comments from Cecchini and the rest of CANYON//SRAM Racing on the Aviva Women's Tour with ©Velofocus images below.
Lisa Brennauer: It’s a great tour. Every year now that we come back we see this tour growing and getting bigger and this is great to see. We were so close to the victory on stage two. I can see that I’m making progress in climbing. I still am missing to go with the very best climbers but in the end for me personally I’m happy to see this progress and I have to build on this. For the team we made one mistake on stage three which put us in a bad position for the GC. But on the other stages we did really good work, for example on stage two when the team worked for me.
Today I didn’t feel well, already from last night and this morning. I started the race but I couldn’t push hard and I just didn’t feel well so I had to pull out after 50km. I can't remember having to do that before and it's not a nice feeling.
Elena Cecchini: After the win of Lisa last year we started with another idea for what we could get at this tour and the aim was to be on the GC podium. I think that we were not really lucky at times and there was a group of things that had an impact on us. In the end we had just two stage podiums. It was good for how we raced as a group but we need to improve. It was a really hard stage race because it was raced aggressive and always up and down is sometimes harder than just one long climb. It’s a good preparation for the upcoming races.
For me the first stage was really a shock to the system because after having only done Philadelphia race after altitude training I was lacking the race speed. But I felt better and better as the tour went on, especially on stage two and three. Yesterday I crashed which was unlucky and today was probably the worst day because I felt empty and also the effects from the crash.
I enjoyed the second stage the most because we worked so well as a team. Lisa lost by 10cm. Also in that stage she needed someone to tell her "we are going for you and we believe in you" and I told her that. Sometimes a team is around you not only to be physically with you but also mentally, for the morale.
Hannah Barnes: I think it was good. I slowly found my legs, apart from today! It was good to get in the break in the third stage and to show my face a bit. I feel I’m missing the really top end but it’s definitely getting there and with more racing I’m confident that I will get there. As a team we gained some confidence and were able to communicate better as the tour went on. I’ll recover now and see how nationals and the next two months go for me.
Barbara Guarischi: It was hard. Really hard. At the end of the tour the whole peloton was really tired. Today in the final stage it was dangerous because not every one was concentrated because they were all so tired.
I was in some breakaways to give a breather to my team mates even if I'm not the best suited to breakaways in this type of terrain. I tried to bring my team mates in to position whenever I could. My goal was to just work for the team and to go hard as possible for the team. I think that for each stage I could not have given more for the team. I gave all. The next for me is national championships.
Alena Amialiusik: Hard! I don’t know who asked for a harder race. I don’t know how it was before because I haven't raced this tour before but this was really hard. I tried my best to bring my team leader to the best position for the finishes. I tried to help the team on the climbs. The second stage was really good because we brought Lisa to the finish and she got second. And yesterday’s stage was also good because Tiff and I worked really hard to bring Lisa back to sprint for the stage. And this shows our strength. As a group we tried and this is good, but next time we will be better, we need to be.
Tiffany Cromwell: I think I can be happy with my overall tour. It’s still not the victories we’re wanting. But I finally turned around my own form and got out of the faraway land I was in for a little while.
I felt strong and it feels good to be able to be there for the team. I could drive it on the front when I needed to but I could also play a support in the climbs, covering attacks and whatever else. I wasn’t struggling on the climbs like I have in the past. I could go not with the top three that battled it out for GC but the next group I could always go with them and be a good asset to the team. It’s nice to be back on the front and now I’m on track I hopefully can go from strength to strength. I was happy with where I’m at and how the team raced together as a group. We had some really good days together. We also had some days that we can learn from.
Next for me is the women's Giro d'Italia, the Giro Rosa. I have a love-hate with that race. It’s my ninth Giro. It’s always super hard but I’ve had a stage win there before and I’ve been on the podium before so I’ve got good memories and hopefully I can do something there.