Analysis of the Women’s Tour Down Under 2023 Stage 2 sprint

After yesterday’s Stage 1 sprint didn’t go to plan for Jayco-AlUla, the Australian team managed to secure a victory for Alex Manly in their home race. Most of their lead-out train was used up again early but this time it was for a clearer purpose of reeling in the attack of Amanda Spratt which took until around 350 metres to go until the finish to complete. With all hands on deck, that left Ruby Roseman-Gannon and Alex Manly at the front but Manly very quickly jumped onto the back of the passing EF Education-TIBCO-SVB pair of Abi Smith and Georgia Williams.

The act of joining the back of the EF Education train wasn’t simple as Dani de Francesco was already there. Manly was slightly helped by the catch of Amanda Spratt and the slight movement to the right of Abi Smith at the front of the EF Education-TIBCO-SVB pair. By needing to avoid Spratt, Manly pushes left and there is an elbow-to-elbow moment between Manly and De Francesco. As Smith moves to the right, all Manly needs to then do is hold her position and she becomes the 3rd rider in the line. Coaxing De Francesco out of the wheels and into the open air to the left of the line. Because of this move, the Zaaf rider doesn’t find any draft again until the finish straight when it’s already too late.

Today’s top 4 are all near the front – Manly (blue), Williams (pink), Buijsman (purple) & De Francesco (orange)

The second move that Manly pulls off which pretty much guarantees her the win is to sneak through on the inside of the EF Education-TIBCO-SVB pair before the final corner. With only 150 metres from the exit to the finish, whoever reaches that corner first is in with a great chance of taking the win just because there’s so little time to catch up and pass afterwards. It’s no surprise that we see today’s top 4 finishers all in the prime position at the front of the race.

The camera cuts from the overhead to along the barriers, perfectly placed to capture the winning move by Alex Manly. She has spotted that the EF Education riders have left a clear path open along the barriers that she can use. Having pushed De Francesco out to the left-hand side, this opening on the right is ideal for Manly to come through before the final corner. There’s plenty of room there, she’s a good metre away from the barrier itself and not close to bumping into Williams or anything. It’s just a smooth, easy move thanks to EF leaving the door open.

We get a slightly unhelpful rear view camera angle next so when we go front-on again, we see Manly has completed the move and Abi Smith has swung off the front as well. That’s forced De Francesco further wide – in the previous shot, she was inside the white line down the middle of the road but is now across it. Manly is now at the front of the race with just the corner and a short sprint left to go. Georgia Williams who should be in that position after being guided there by Abi Smith is now in 2nd position on Manly’s wheel.

The final corner was key as once through it the gap between Manly and Williams didn’t particularly budge until the final 50 metres where maybe Manly eased off just a tough. It’s impossible to be sure without the data however and that’s not available on Strava. The only rider of the 4 for whom the sprint data is available is Dani de Francesco. Kicking out of the corner, she averaged 638w for 12 seconds with a peak of 724w. Strava claims that is 10.3 w/kg for that sprint by the Aussie rider. Those are decent numbers but the trouble is, she’s the only rider of the 4 to lose a position in the final section.

Nina Buijsman came around the Zaaf rider for 3rd place, partly thanks to a stronger draft than the one De Francesco was getting further back from Williams and also the cornering itself. It’s clear from the highlights that Buijsman is back pedalling earlier than De Francesco and therefore picking up the speed for a run at her. The speed is increasing from an earlier point and leaves De Francesco exposed. Buijsman gets such a good kick that I’m left wondering if she could have won the stage over Manly if she was in 2nd wheel. Interestingly, none of the top 5 from today’s stage was involved in yesterday’s Stage 1 sprint. The highest placed was Georgia Williams in 15th place.

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