Stage win for GreenEdge in windy conditions
With three riders in the Top 5 on GC, GreenEdge decided to get aggressive on Stage 3 of the NZCT Tour of NZ. They threw plenty at Team USA and were rewarded with stage success.
"We gave it everything," Kiwi GreenEdge rider Linda Villumsen told RoadCycling.co.nz. "Team effort. We went 1,2,3, it was just attack on attack."
After 121km of rolling countryside, however, it came down to a bunch sprint where defending champion Judith Arndt took the stage win in Palmerston North.
With time bonuses the GreenEdge rider, and defending tour champion, nudged a few seconds closer to tour leader Kristin Armstrong (Team USA) who retained the yellow jersey with a strong sprint for second place.
The sprint finish was not the only battle these two world class riders had today though.
Once the peloton had neutralised the long solo break of Jayco AIS rider Grace Sulzberger, and a subsequent four rider break initiated by GreenEdge's Shara Gillow, the two champions had a one on one duel.
Arndt could not break Armstrong though and despite continued attacks by GreenEdge's other three riders in the final 20km, the peloton was back together for the bunch sprint finish.
"We wanted to be a little more aggressive today," said Arndt after the win. "There were a few very good attacks, but in the end it was a sprint."
The strong head wind on the finishing straight made it hard for her teammates to lead out, but Arndt was strong enough to deliver the stage win.
"It was only 100m, but with the headwind it felt like 200m," Arndt said of the final moments of the windy stage.
Villumsen, who did her share of attacking around the back of the course, was also involved in the final push to the line.
"It was difficult to do anything in this wind, but we tried to get Judith up for the sprint, and it worked pretty well. She was awesome," the Kiwi said.
There is now just an 11sec gap on GC between Armstrong and Arndt. Villumsen is 3rd overall +33sec.
"It's getting closer every day. We'll try, we'll give it a go," Villumsen said of the team's intentions for the final two stages of the tour.