Former two-time Italian National Road Cycling Champion and 2011 Tour of Chongming Island third place-getter Monia Baccaille (MCipollini Giambenini) stole the show in today’s 118.4 kilometre ‘Chongming New City Cup’ stage.
Images: Tour of Chongming Island
The charismatic 28 year old twice outgunned incumbent race leader Melissa Hoskins in sprint finishes (GreenEDGE-AIS) on her way to claiming the stage win and overall leader’s jersey. Chloe Hosking (Specialized – Lululemon) rebutted her self-proclaimed recent form slump to take second place in the stage, while third-placed Shelly Olds (AA Drink – Leontien.nl) is returning to fitness after suffering a broken wrist six weeks ago.
Hoskins started today’s stage, the race’s longest, only seven seconds in front of Baccaille, with Rochelle Gilmore (Faren Honda Team) a further two seconds behind. With two intermediate sprints (at 39.4km and 83.2km) offering valuable bonus seconds, Hoskins’ GreenEDGE team sought to build on its advantage through an offensive race strategy; with team manager David McPartland stating earlier that “the best form of defence is to attack”.
Fifteen minutes into the warm and dry stage, 90 riders battled for precious real estate as the roads narrowed to an access lane tracking Chongming’s northwestern edge. Aided by a sharp directional change, AA Drink – Leontien.nl’s Merieke van Wanroij made the first meaningful break from the peloton, building a 32” lead over 10 kilometres of slender pathways. As Mingzhou Lake came into view, the roads opened up again and Van Wanroij was quickly enveloped by a peloton eager to reach the first intermediate sprint intact.
In a carbon copy of stage one, Hoskins trumped Baccaille and Liesbet De Vocht (Stichting Rabo Women) at the line, creating the impression of a powerful GreenEDGE squad that had the stage, and probably the race, all but sewn up. As the post-sprint pace wound down into a brisk tempo, Forno D’Asolo Colavita’s Whitney Gaggioli and Korea’s Sunae Choe launched themselves off the front, drawing a response from Rusvelo’s Natalya Boyarskaya. The three riders never settled into a partnership, with Gaggioli, then Choe, falling back to the peloton only five minutes after breaking away. Boyarskaya’s persistence saw her gain a 24” advantage, giving the hundreds of locals that had emerged from farm buildings nestled amongst wheat fields a small race appetiser before the chasing bunch sped by moments later.
Having pulled Boyarskaya back, MCipollini Giambenini continued to drive the peloton towards the second intermediate sprint and in a race-defining moment, Baccaille rewarded her squad’s meticulous lead out, claiming maximum points ahead of Olds and Hoskins. Now that Baccaille had effectively negated Hoskins’ earlier time bonus, the yellow jersey was within reach; most importantly, Baccaille now had the upper hand psychologically.
Flat, multi-laned roads with a lack of technicality meant there was no cover for aspiring breakaways in the closing kilometres approaching Chengqiao town. With five kilometres remaining, MCipollini Giambenini asserted itself at the head of the peloton, yielding nothing to a GreenEDGE squad on high alert. Coming out of the final left hand turn with 800 metres to go, Baccaille held fourth wheel behind three teammates. Having timed her sprint too early the day prior, Baccaille was not keen to tow Hoskins to a second stage victory. As the speed peaked over a slight rise, disaster unfolded behind; with several riders, including Rusvelo’s Evgenia Romanyuta, crashing heavily after a rider in front clipped a roadside barrier.
Unaware of the chaos behind her, Baccaille powered ahead to stage victory, finally getting her long awaited stage win in Chongming Island having secured three top five finishes last year.
“Yesterday wasn’t so good,” sighed Baccaille, reflecting somewhat harshly on her third place in stage one. “I just went too early in the sprint. That’s why it was beautiful to see my team ride so perfectly today. We were on the front for the last five kilometres; it was a race between GreenEDGE and MCipollini. I feel like I’m getting stronger and of course now I hope to win overall.“
Chloe Hosking (Team Specialized – Lululemon), 2nd place in stage 2; 5th on GC at 16”
“I just didn’t have the legs yesterday. I think I may have picked up a bit of a stomach bug, I just didn’t feel great. Two weeks ago, I would have said I was in better form than at the same time last year but I think I’m just having a bout of fatigue.
We know that Chongming stages usually come down to a bunch sprint. When I have the legs, that’s not necessarily a bad thing for our team. This is my fourth year here, so I know most of the roads, and when things usually start happening, so from that perspective I feel maybe I have a slight advantage GreenEDGE rode so well yesterday, they were so strong for the whole stage. Their leadout was just amazing, so hats off to them. Yesterday was the best I’ve seen them race all season.
Our team is great. (Team Manager) Kristy Scrymgeour has done a fantastic job of putting it together, and getting sponsors that are excited about the sport. I think that excitement feeds through into our racing and you can see it this year. We’ve won in Europe, in America, and hopefully we’ll win in China. There’s just a really great atmosphere in the team. It has been my most enjoyable year on the bike so far.”
Shelley Olds (AA Drink – Leontien.nl), 3rd place in stage 2; 4th on GC at 16”
“We’re here to win, of course. It’s a great race, well organized and it has nice fast roads. It’s my first Tour of Chongming, but the team was here last year. I think the race will come down to the final bunch sprint. It’s short enough, so it should be easy enough to control. If the wind comes into play, then there could be some breaking up of the field.
It’s been a long season of not racing for me; I had a broken wrist for the last six weeks. This is my second race back, but really the first one where I feel ready to race. My 2012 objective was the Olympics until I had this injury, but I’m trying to get back on my feet and have fun. It’s been really tough, but it’s not the end of the world.”
LEADERBOARD AFTER STAGE 2
General classification (Yellow jersey) – Monia Baccaille (MCipollini Giambenini)
Points classification (Green jersey) – Monia Baccaille (MCipollini Giambenini)
Best Asian Rider classification (Blue jersey) – Jutatip Maneephan (Thailand National Team)
Best team classification by time – AA Drink – Leontien.nl
Best Asian team classification by time – Axman Team Taiwan
STAGE TWO RESULTS
INDIVIDUAL GENERAL CLASSIFICATION AFTER STAGE 2