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HTC-Highroad Dominate Tour of ChongMing Island Stage Race

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This week was the Tour of ChongMing Island Tour - a three-stage Tour on the 80-km island in the Yangstze delta, in China.  The three stages were very different - a 73km road race in torrential rain; a 118.4km race around the dykes on the Western half of the island; and a 73km, ahem "crit-like" city circuit race - 11 laps of a 7.2km circuit, with lots of tight corners (Crits aren't allowed in stage races, but you know, this is a circuit race, that's different!).  Monty has a fabulous race preview that you may have read, but here's how it happened, with the usual links to blogs, photos & coverage in the article and comments....

Women'sCycling.net was there to cover the races for fans - with superb mini-videos, which is perfect!  Here's stage 1, but below the jump, how each stage played out, and of course, who won.  There may be a clue in the title....

Womenscycling.net is a great site for women's cycling fans - it has photos and race reports from most of the major races, from CJ Farquharson, and the videos are a superb addition.  I recommend it!

Stage 1 was POURING rain, and apparently there was water all over the road, washing debris and rubbish into the paths of the riders, causing punctures and crashes.  Strong winds and enormous long straight stretches added to the fun - and in this race, the intermediate sprint points added vital bonifications for the GC, so there were attacks for those, too.  And on top of that, teams are getting ready for Sunday's fifth round of the Road World Cup, so with Marianne Vos on her mid-season break (happy birthday for yesterday, Marianne!), Annemiek van Vleuten and Emma Johansson, who are only 13 WC points apart in the World Cup, were getting their sprint legs in, as both will be fighting hard tomorrow.

Although riders tried to attack, despite the heavy winds, the peloton stayed all together for a bunch sprint.  Big loser was World Champion, Giorgia Bronzini, who seems to have been caught up in the crashes - but after a year of health problems (a gallbladder operation, side strain that kept her out of the Track World Champs and stomach problems that pulled her out of GP Elsy Jacobs), Garmin-Cervélo's Lizzie Armitstead demonstrated waht she can do when she's bang on form.  According to Van Vleuten, Garmin surprised everyone by starting the sprint early, and Armitstead took the win!  After the race, she told Women'sCycling:

We wanted to try to force something during the race, but only if there was a good moment. The good moment never came, so the girls tried to help me in the final stages. They did a good lead out. A little bit too early, but they dropped me off on a good wheel so it was good,"

Stage 1 (Full results and race report on CN):

1.   Lizzie Armitstead  (GBr) Garmin Cervelo, 01:49.22 
2.   Ina-Yoko Teutenberg (Ger) HTC-Highroad, s.t.
3.   Annemiek van Vleuten (Ned) Nederland Bloeit, s.t.
4.   Monia Baccaille (Ita)  MCipollini-Giambenini , s.t.
5.   Emma Johansson (Swe) Hitec Products UCK, s.t.

Because of the intermediate sprint bonis, HTC-Highroad's Ina-Yoko Teutenberg ended up leading the GC by 1 second

Stage 2: Chongming Industrial Zone Cup

Luckily this wasn't as rainy, but the winds still played a part, and HTC, with Teutenberg's win to defend, and having got the feel for the strengths of the other teams, demonstrated why they were THE top sprint team at the race.  Before the second intermediate sprint point, they massed on the front, and with all six members of their team, attacked to perfection.  It was a bit of a "who had been watching carefully" moment, as only 12 riders got away with them: Johansson and Sara Mustonen from Hitec; Van Vleuten and Düster from Nederland Bloeit; Lizzie Armitstead, Lucy martin & Trine Schmidt from Garmin; World Champion Giorgia Bronzini and Giada Borgato (Team Italy); Italian Champion Monia Baccaille of MCipollini;Romy Kasper (Germany); and Lauren Tamayo (Team USA)

With HTC's team just full of awesome talent (Teutenberg with Adrie Visser, Ellen van Dijk, Chloe Hosking and the 2 German Road Champs in Judith Arndt, Charlotte Becker) they were able to dominate the stage - although poor Armitstead punctured after winning bonis in the second sprint, and despite Schmidt's best efforts, couldn't get back to the group.  But with HTC's whole team to kill themselves for Ina, and lead her out to perfection, of course Teutenberg won, and with the bonis she picked up, she gained 17 seconds in the GC, locking in her lead.  Here's the women'scycling race report - and video - seems like a really scenic stage:

Stage 2 (full results & race report on CN)

1.   Ina-Yoko Teutenberg (Ger) HTC-Highroad, 3:01:02
2.   Annemiek van Vleuten (Ned) Nederland Bloeit, s.t.
3.   Charlotte Becker (Ger) HTC-Highroad, s.t.
4.   Emma Johansson (Swe) Hitec Products UCK, s.t.
5.   Monia Baccaille (Ita)  MCipollini-Giambenini , s.t.

GC after Stage 2:

1.   Ina-Yoko Teutenberg (Ger) HTC-Highroad, 04:49:57
2.   Annemiek van Vleuten (Ned) Nederland Bloeit, + 0:17
3.   Emma Johansson (Swe) Hitec Products UCK, + 0:20
4.   Lauren Tamayo (USA) USA, + 0:26
5.   Monia Baccaille (Ita)  MCipollini-Giambenini, + 0:27

Stage 3: Shanghai East Beach Cup

So, the Crit stage, and although Teutenberg's lead was solid, HTC weren't taking chances.  But this didn't stop fierce fighting for sprint bonis - especially from Monia Baccaille, who was really fighting to get onto the podium and won the third sprint.  Emma Johansson was feeling under the weather from food poisoning, but still fought hard - her team-mate Sara Mustonen also deserves credit for winning the second sprint.

Once again, it was HTC in control, with all six riders up front.  Everyone expected them to ride for a second stage win for Teutenberg....  but Teute, who combines speed with superb tactics, had other ideas.  Here's what happened from Rochelle Gilmore's PoV (you should read the rest of the blog entry, and her blog after stage 1 - it gives a great idea of the whole Tour...):

Even though HighRoad worked really hard yesterday, and spent most of today on the front of the bunch, they were still able to pull off an impressive lead-out that no one could contend with! I was on Ina’s wheel with 1.5km’s to go and she had a few teammates in front of her. As we took the final left hand turn with 300m to go, Ina hit the brakes or freewheeled for a moment, I was shunted as I expected I’d need max power out of the corner, as I hit my brakes- I was swamped and my sprint was over with 200m to go. Ina was yelling at her lead-out riders to go while she had created a gap out of the corner. Ina’s teammate/lead-out rider Chloe Hosking took the win- she must have rode very strong from the last corner! It was an impressive win, and equally impressive was Ina’s last moment acceleration to pass a small group of riders for second!

Not only are HighRoad hands down the strongest team here; they’re also the smartest team here! Their strategy yesterday was very well thought out and what about today, who expected Ina to sacrifice another stage win with 250m to go? If we were to give it a lot ofthought of course it’s a smart move- everyone is fighting for Ina’s wheel, watching her, and waiting for her to make a move, and a mistake! Chloe Hosking is one of HighRoad’s valued domestiques- known best for her speed/sprint and lead-out strength, she probably worked really hard to set Ina up for the win yesterday so it’s great to see her have an opportunity and to take an impressive win today! Highroad won 2 of 3 stages, the overall GC, the points and team classification!

20-year-old Aussie Hosking is a former National Crit Champion and general crit specialist, and won the CMI Tour in 2009, so she was perfectly set-up to take advantage of the Teutenberg tactics. Here's the Women's Cycling race report and video:

 

Stage 3 results (full results & race report on CN)

1.   Chloe Hosking (Aus) HTC Highroad Women, 1:54:36  
2.   Ina-Yoko Teutenberg (Ger) HTC Highroad Women, s.t.    
3.   Monia Baccaille (Ita) MCipollini Giordana, s.t.    
4.   Ellen Van Dijk (Ned) HTC Highroad Women, s.t.    
5.   Lizzie Armitstead (GBr) Garmin - Cervelo, s.t.   

So that meant Teutenberg won the Tour for a second year in a row, and the sprint jersey - and of course, HTC-Highroad won the team competition - here are some women'scycling post-race interviews, HTC-Highroad were justifiably VERY happy!

 

So the final General Classification...

1.   Ina Teutenberg (Ger) HTC Highroad Women, 6:44:24  
2.   Annemiek Van Vleuten (Ned) Nederland Bloeit, +  0:26  
3.   Monia Baccaille (Ita) MCipollini Giordana,  + 0:27  
4.   Emma Johansson (Swe) Hitec Products, s.t.    
5.   Sara Mustonen (Swe) Hitec Products, + 0:33  
6.   Giada Borgato (Ita) Italy, + 0:34  
7.   Lauren Tamayo (USA) United States, s.t.    
8.   Romy Kasper (Ger) Germany, +  0:36  
9.   Sarah Düster (Ger) Nederland Bloeit, s.t.    
10. Lucy Martin (GBr) Garmin - Cervelo, s.t.

For people playing the Virtual Directeur Sportif game, this is a VDS 3 race, so you get points for the first 3 on each stage (40, 25, 10), 6 for the Intermediate leader, points for the top 10 in GC (250, 180, 150, 125, 100, 80, 60, 40, 20, 10) and 60, 40, 20 for the final secondary jerseys.

For some more rider perspectives on the race, here are blogs from Annemiek van Vleuten and Emma Johansson - and anything you find and like, please, please add to the comments!

So, onwards to Sunday's Road World Cup.   Monty has the best preview, of course - but bet on HTC trying to repeat their success, and Nederland Bloeit and Hitec wanting to take advantage of the bridge  (high winds and the 2 climbs of the day).  For following the race live-ish, Jackson Stewart, the Team USA DS  and Team Alriksson Go:Green have been tweeting from the team cars - and massive thanks to Karl N for giving us very quick race results & info throughout the Tour!  Cross fingers for no rain for the riders - and of course, for an exciting, but most importantly safe race.