We maintained our lead in the sprint classification after the fourth stage of the Virtual Tour de France today. Racing on a new course on Zwift, the stage was won by April Tacey (DRP) with Hannah Ludwig and Jess Pratt from our team finishing thirteenth and fourteenth respectively.
Jess, took to the start line at 11pm from her home in Brisbane, Australia. “Going into today’s stage the team plan was to get to the finish in as best shape as possible to maintain or improve our position overall. Although it started flat, the start was very solid. We were maintaining good position, with Christa (Riffel) picking up some sprint points early on. When we hit the second KOM, the gas was on, with Hannah and I cresting just off the pace of the lead group. With some solid turns we got back to the front group to form 18 riders with 22km to go. Hannah and I then focused on conserving energy wherever we could.”
Jess continued, “The final climb was definitely the hardest part of the course, it might only be short but it was far from easy. Hannah and I again crested just off the pace of the front group. We did our best to get back, but at the end we were racing for at best, a thirteenth place. Personally, I’m a little disappointed with my performance as I feel I am capable of making it over the climb with the front bunch. In saying that I think we did the best we could on a tough course.”
Jess’ teammates each give their summary of the stage.
Hannah Ludwig: “I didn’t know what to expect because I am at altitude at the moment but I felt quite good. I was really happy to have Jess around today because we could really help each other and work together. The final climb was the hardest moment and we were so close to getting back, but we couldn’t quite make it. I am happy with the result because we kept the green jersey.”
Alexis Ryan: “The hardest point in the course was the approximately 4km climb a few kilometres before the finish. The race was super hard from the start. There was never a moment to rest or ease the pressure on the pedals. I came off the group at the top of the climb. I was feeling stronger than last week’s stage, but the competition is also getting stronger. I sprinted from my group at the end to get the team maximum points. My max power numbers were great—I just wish I could have been displaying them at the front of the race.”
“The team raced well again today. They maintained good position at the front of the group all race and finished well. I think we are still holding a high position in the GC, while also leading the sprint, and the team GC.”
Christa Riffel: “My goal was to get some points in the intermediate sprints like yesterday. I could still feel the effort from stage 3 yesterday. After the first sprint I needed to really dig deep to stay in contact, whereas yesterday it was a lot easier. I earned points in the first sprint, but then I couldn’t recover enough before the first climb came and I wasn’t able to hold the front group over the KOM. That’s disappointing because I really hoped to do better, especially after such a good race yesterday. It was great that my teammates could all make it into the top 20, so we still earned some important points for the GC.”