Women's Tour 2021: Amy Pieters claims second stage sprint as Clara Copponi takes race lead

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Amy Pieters of Netherlands and Team SD Worx celebrates winning during the 7th The Women's Tour 2021 - Stage 2 a 102,2km stage from Walsall to Walsall / @thewomenstour / #UCIWWT /on October 05, 2021 in Walsall, England. - GETTY IMAGES
Amy Pieters of Netherlands and Team SD Worx celebrates winning during the 7th The Women's Tour 2021 - Stage 2 a 102,2km stage from Walsall to Walsall / @thewomenstour / #UCIWWT /on October 05, 2021 in Walsall, England. - GETTY IMAGES

Tuesday October 5, stage two – Walsall to Walsall, 102.2km

British rider Pfeiffer Georgi (Team DSM) narrowly failed to land what would have been a famous victory on stage two of the AJ Bell Women’s Tour as Amy Pieters (SD Worx) claimed victory in a sprint in Walsall.

Georgi was part of a 10-rider group who broke clear inside the final 10 kilometres of racing and led through the final turn on to the Lichfield Street finishing straight. But with only a handful of metres' of advantage over the fast-charging Pieters and Clara Copponi (FDJ Nouvelle-Aquitaine Futuroscope) she was unable to hang on, eventually finishing fifth.

It was still an encouraging performance from the 21 year-old, who was singled out for praise by Lizzie Deignan after doing a sterling job to protect her at the world championship road race in Flanders last month. Deignan described Georgi as “probably the best team GB team-mate I’ve ever had”.

It was Pieters who ultimately claimed the fourth AJ Bell Women's Tour stage victory of her career, though, with Copponi moving into the race lead thanks to her second place.

Overnight race leader Marta Bastianelli (Alé BTC Ljubljana) finished in the peloton, 46 seconds behind the leaders, and conceded the blue leader’s jersey to Copponi, who is making her debut in the race in 2021.

“It was a hectic final”, said Pieters, who had team mate Demi Vollering, one of the race favourites, working for her in the run-in. “I think the whole day was pretty hectic. There was still a small gap after the last corner but I thought I just needed to start to sprint. It was an urgent sprint but it went well at the end.”

Wednesday's third stage is the race’s first ever individual time trial. It takes place over a 16.6-kilometre (10.3-mile) course starting and finishing in Atherstone town centre in North Warwickshire.

Bastianelli pips Hosking and Copponi to take opening sprint

Marta Bastianelli of Italy and Team Ale' Btc Ljubljana celebrates winning ahead of Chloe Hosking of Australia and Team Trek - Segafredo and Clara Copponi of France and Team FDJ Nouvelle - Aquitaine Futuroscope during the 7th The Women's Tour 2021 - Stage 1 a 147,7km stage from Bicester to Banbury - GETTY IMAGES
Marta Bastianelli of Italy and Team Ale' Btc Ljubljana celebrates winning ahead of Chloe Hosking of Australia and Team Trek - Segafredo and Clara Copponi of France and Team FDJ Nouvelle - Aquitaine Futuroscope during the 7th The Women's Tour 2021 - Stage 1 a 147,7km stage from Bicester to Banbury - GETTY IMAGES

Monday, October 4, stage one – Bicester to Banbury, 147.7km

Italy’s former world champion Marta Bastianelli won a dramatic sprint finish to take the opening stage of the Women's Tour of Britain in Banbury as Britain's Hannah Barnes (Canyon-Sram) finished sixth.

A large group of riders approached the finish line in a pack and 2007 road race world champion Bastianelli of Alé BTC Ljubljana managed to pass Chloe Hosking (Trek-Segafredo) and FDJ Nouvelle-Aquitaine Futuroscope’s Clara Copponi in sight of the line to take the win and the race’s first leader’s jersey of 2021.

"It's a very nice win for me," Bastianelli said of her first Women's Tour stage victory. "The sprint was not easy because it is a little bit tougher and uphill, and I think it is not for the sprinters, but for me it is a good race and a good day.

“There was a crash with one kilometre to go, and luckily I did not crash but I am sorry for those that did. I started the sprint in third position, and for me it was the maximum because my coach has seen me win sprints from there.”

As well as Barnes in sixth, fellow Briton Josie Nelson (Coop-Hitec Products) also made the top 10, finishing eighth, while compatriot Joss Lowden (Drops–Le Col) was 23rd.

Barnes, Nelson and Lowden - who broke cycling's prestigious hour record on Thursday - were three of eight British riders to finish in the leading group.

Defending champion Lizzie Deignan (Trek-Segafredo), fresh from her sensational victory at Paris-Roubaix at the weekend, was 26 seconds behind the leaders having worked for Hosking on the run-in.

Deignan is the only rider to have won the Women's Tour twice and the 32 year-old arrived in Oxfordshire after victory in the gruelling Paris-Roubaix race on Saturday. But she had already warned that the race was not one which would suit her for the overall, with a 16.6km time trial in Atherstone tomorrow.

“I think this race is a little bit different. It’s at the end of a long hard season. We have a time trial specialist who unfortunately crashed at Roubaix [Ellen van Dijk] so I think we’ll have to be a little bit flexible to win the race.”

Tuesday's second stage starts and finishes in Walsall, covering 103km. The race ends in Felixstowe on Saturday.

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