WORDS: REBECCA BLAND
IMAGES: HONOR ELLIOTT
The third stage of The Women’s Tour brought entertainment and excitement to the Gloucestershire countryside today. With punchy hills and changeable weather, the race was filled with potential flashpoints, and our own Gladys left her mark on the stage.
Of the 107.9km route, the climbs began to roll in after the 35km mark, by which point Riejanne Markus (Jumbo Visma) had already made ground on the peloton with a gap of around one minute. Sensing the importance this move could have in the QOM competition, classification leader Christine Majerus of SD Worx launched an attack to bridge the gap.
Gladys quickly jumped across to join the party, as she explained post-stage.
“I think it was a good ride. I was in the bunch on the climb and when I saw Majerus attacked, I went with her. We worked well together and bridged to Markus.”
Gladys managed to secure third place on the first QOM, but lost contact with the group as they ascended the second climb.
“During the last climb, I was dropped because Majerus and Markus were very strong, so I went back to the bunch and I rode with Lizzie.”
After the second QOM the peloton upped the pace and reeled in the two remaining breakaway riders. A second surge was made, splitting the peloton as they rode through undulating terrain. The team wasn’t represented in the front group, but it eventually came back together in time for the finale.
The initial plan for the stage was to keep the sprints jersey safe, and although she didn’t increase her points haul today, Maike’s lead remains secure over Clara Copponi of FDJ-Nouvelle Aquitaine-Futuroscope.
Keeping our GC leader safe and fresh in the bunch was also a priority, given the challenging couple of days to come. With this in mind and with a pack finish secured for Lizzie, DS Julia gave Gladys the chance to sprint for herself.
“Julia said to me at 5km before the finish, ‘Okay Gladys, you can do the sprint’ and I tried but with my efforts before it was a little bit complicated for me. I think I was in the top 15, so I’m happy with this place because I think I did a good race, it was a good day.”
A good day, indeed, as we retain the sprint jersey and primed the legs for the climbing heavy stages to come, ready for the GC battle through Wales. Gladys crossed the line in 11th, with Lizzie just behind in 16th. Both are now in the top 25 on GC, but this is a GC still very much liable to change in the second, hillier half of this six-day race.
Stage four sees the race head into Wales and presents two more opportunities for intermediate sprint points, as well as two classified climbs for the QOM competition. Tune in live on GCN+ or Eurosport tomorrow, or watch the highlights on ITV4 in the evening.
Today’s stage highlights will be available to watch on ITV4 from 8pm.