Today’s 118.8-kilometer stage 2 began in the market town of Hinckley in Leicestershire and headed north east towards the outskirts of Leicester before turning south east back through Northamptonshire and on to the finish on the Embankment in Bedford.
It featured two intermediate sprints at Lutterworth and Turvey, while the Queen of the Mountains points were at Kilworth and Naseby.
An early breakaway from Silvia Valsecchi saw the Astana-BePink rider open up a 50-second lead, but eventually she was caught. The 31-year-old Italian however hung on long enough to take first Yodel sprint points at Lutterworth. Britain’s Lizzie Armitstead was second, beating Vos into third and earning a two-second time bonus.
Massive crowds greeted Great Britain’s Lucy Garner as she passed through her home town of Cosby and shortly after Garner’s teammate Ciara Horne put in a solo attack and broke clear to take the Strava QoM points at Kilworth, 45-kilometres in, before dropping back into the group.
Fellow Brit and former national champion Sharon Laws took second over the climb to increase her lead in the QoM standings.
Then came the decisive move; Ratto of Estado de Mexico Faren attacked before the second QoM at Brixworth, 64-kilomeers in, taking the maximum QoM points and quickly building a solo lead of almost two minutes.
Sharon Laws was third over the hill, enough to secure her Strava Queen of the Mountains jersey for another day.
2013 road world championship bronze medalist Ratto stayed off the front of the group for a while, her lead ebbing and flowing before the Italian breakaway theme continued; Susanna Zorzi of Astana-BePink going off the front to join her compatriot.
Together they reopened a gap of over two minutes as the race neared the second and final Yodel sprint of the day at Turvey. Ratto took maximum points ahead of Zorzi with Lizzie Armitstead once again besting Vos at the head of the peloton, which, thanks to the efforts of her Boels Dolmans team was rapidly catching the two escapees as the Bedford finale approached.
Meanwhile Britain’s Emma Pooley was delayed in a crash and had to work hard to chase back on to the peloton.
At 5-kilometers to go it was touch and go whether or not the breakaway pair would be caught however at 1km the pair still had 27 seconds lead, with Ratto taking the win from under-23 European road champ Zorzi.
Marianne Vos took the bunch sprint for third ahead of compatriot Amy Pieters.
Ratto’s win meant that she took the overall leader’s jersey and also the best young rider jersey from Britain’s Hannah Barnes. Vos retained the points jersey while Lizzie Armitstead took the best British rider jersey.
Top 25 Finishers
1 Rossella Ratto (Ita) Estado de Mexico Faren 3:02:02 2 Susanna Zorzi (Ita) Astana Bepink womens team 3 Marianne Vos (Ned) Rabo Liv women cycling team 0:00:06 4 Amy Pieters (Ned) Netherlands5 Lucy Garner (GBr) Great Britain 6 Giorgia Bronzini (Ita) Wiggle Honda 7 Lizzie Armitstead (GBr) Boels Dolmans cycling team 8 Aurore Verhoeven (Fra) Lointek 9 Aude Biannic (Fra) Lointek 10 Chloe Hosking (Aus) Hitec products 11 Emma Johansson (Swe) Orica AIS 12 Elena Cecchini (Ita) Estado de Mexico Faren 13 Trixi Worrack (Ger) Specialized Lululemon 14 Elisa Longo Borghini (Ita) Hitec products 15 Jolanda Neff (Swi) Switzerland 16 Katie Archibald (GBr) Great Britain 17 Ashleigh Moolman Pasio (RSA) Hitec products 18 Ellen Van Dijk (Ned) Boels Dolmans cycling team 19 Lisa Brennauer (Ger) Specialized Lululemon 20 Ramona Forchini (Swi) Switzerland 21 Linda Villumsen (NZl) Wiggle Honda 22 Hannah Barnes (GBr) UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling 23 Anouska Koster (Ned) Netherlands 24 Peta Mullens (Aus) Wiggle Honda 25 Leah Kirchmann (Can) Optum p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies
Friends Life Yellow Jersey – Awarded each day to the rider with the lowest cumulative time – the overall leader of the race.
The Points Jersey – Awarded each day for intermediate sprints and stage finishing position. The top 15 riders at each stage finish score.
The Strava Queen of the Mountains Jersey – Each stage has two Queen of the Mountains locations, with points awarded differing depending on the severity of each climb.
The Matrix Fitness Best Young Rider Jersey – Awarded each day to the best under 23 rider on the overall classification.
The Best British Rider Jersey – Awarded to the best British rider on general classification each day, with the aim of creating a sub-competition for British riders.
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