Ella and Omer both on the podium in Belgium

Third place for Ella Harris on today’s final stage at AG Tour de la Semois, meant the CANYON//SRAM Racing rider stormed into third in the overall classification to take her first GC podium in Europe. It capped off a successful finish to the two-day tour after Omer Shapira won the mountain classification and finished fourth in the overall.

Shapira was in the thick of the action in the final hour of racing on the second stage around Vresse-sur-Semois. The Israeli national road champion creating a strong breakaway, before attacking again to go solo for one lap on the final local circuit, and finally being a part of the four-rider breakaway with Harris that would stay away to the finish line. Her efforts made it a clear victory in the mountain classification.

Shapira said, “Yesterday I didn’t feel good and I was disappointed with my performance, but I stayed positive for today’s stage. I attacked a few times and then we created a good group around 35 kilometres to go. On the local lap on the steep climb, Elisa (Longo Borghini) and Lianne (Lippert) joined us. I attacked again and went solo for another lap. Then Ella, Floortje (Mackaij) and Tayler (Wiles) came across to me. I was pretty tired by then, but I tried to help Ella as much as I could. I’m happy with my ride. I did the best I could, took the mountain jersey, and helped Ella with a GC podium.”

Harris said, “I certainly didn’t anticipate that result this morning. I was aiming to ride for GC today, but confidence is always an issue of mine! The first 30km were really tough, but I slowly found my legs.”

“Neve (Bradbury) did such a good job staying at the front covering the moves in the first half of the race, and Omer created a strong move which took the pressure off. When we hit the first of three finishing laps and the decisive climb, I ended up in a smaller chase group that merged with the remnants of Omer’s break.  Omer attacked again on a smaller 1km climb that no one reacted to. Once we hit the second lap and the main climb again, Floortje attacked and Tayler followed, so I played to my strengths to up the pace and bridge to them gradually. We caught Omer after the top, and after that, we worked cohesively as a four.”

Harris continued, “Omer was pretty out of gas by the final lap, and was distanced on the last climb. She rejoined us and tried to attack with 1km to go, but ended up leading out the sprint. I’m really pleased and surprised to get my first-ever stage podium and GC podium in Europe. It was a really hard race today, and I’m pleased I could do it justice and show myself, and get a nice result for the teamwork.”

Harris will represent New Zealand at the upcoming UCI Road World Championships in Leuven, Belgium. Other CANYON//SRAM Racing riders competing include Alena Amialiusik (Belarus), Alice Barnes (Great Britain), Elise Chabbey (Switzerland), Tiffany Cromwell (Australia), Mikayla Harvey (New Zealand), Lisa Klein (Germany), Hannah Ludwig (reserve, Germany), Kasia Niewiadoma (Poland), and Omer Shapira (Israel).