The Women’s Tour, Drops – Le Col Race Roundup

The Women’s Tour is Britain’s most prestigious multi-stage and attracts the world’s best riders to the shore of the UK. The Drops – Le Col racing team has been an ever-present at the Women’s Tour since its inaugural edition back in 2016. A hugely impressive team performance led to Joss Lowden securing a superb top ten finish overall. Read our stage summary to see how they achieved this incredible result.

Attacking Anna lights up the race

Stage 1: Bicester to Banbury

Starting in Bicester, the opening stage of the Women’s Tour was a 147.7km route through rural Oxfordshire. A flurry of early attacks marked the start of racing in earnest. However, a determined-looking peloton never looked like relinquishing control of the front of the race. Subsequently, each attack was quickly nullified. Anna Christian was a rider that featured in these early breaks but crucially was never allowed more than 11 seconds of an advantage. With a peloton seemingly content to contest a bunch sprint, the team’s priority was protecting Joss Lowden. It was mission accomplished as Joss crossed the finish line safely in the main bunch to finish 23rd.

Wet & Windy West Midlands

Stage 2: Walsall to Walsall

A rolling circuit to the east of Walsall played host to stage 2 of the Women’s Tour. A peloton reduced by opening day crashes set off from Walsall Arboretum in the pouring rain. The rolling route profile guaranteed an entertaining spectacle. It quickly became a race of attrition with riders being dropped with frequent regularity. Similarly to the first stage, attacks came and went, with no apparent effect on the day’s eventual outcome. That is, until the fifth lap when a group of eight riders including Joss Lowden broke clear.

However, this group was only afforded a small gap over a peloton that looked intent on keeping everything together. By the start of the last lap, this group had been reeled in. There was to be no respite, however, as almost immediately a further break of ten riders made their break for victory. This finally was to prove to be the definitive break of the day and by the finish, they had built up a lead of 46 seconds. April Tacey and Joss Lowden crossed the line safely within the second larger group, finishing 21st and 36th respectively. Joss’s sights were firmly set on stage 3’s time trial.

Joyous Joss TT’s to 2nd place

Stage 3: Individual Time trial

The first-ever time trial in women’s tour history was a homage to the British time trialling heritage. World Hour Record holder Joss Lowden flew the flag for Britain to record the 2nd fastest time of the day and catapult herself into the top ten on GC. Alice Towers was the first rider to set an impressive benchmark time of 25:59, good enough for 35th overall. not bad for an 18-year-old! It was to be her teammate Anna Christian who then improved upon this to set a time of 25:41 to secure 30th on the stage.

Majo sprints to 5th

Stage 4: Shoeburyness to Southend

A high-speed start to the stage saw riders cover the first 40km in an hour. At these speeds any breakaway attempt was short-lived, that is until a rider from Movistar eventually broke the elastic. After her opening day solo breakaway exploits, it was Anna Christian who once again stretched her legs to try and catch the leader. With 46km to go, however, Anna was in the dreaded no man’s land, marooned in between the leader and the rapidly approaching peloton. Once again, it looked like the stage would be settled by a bunch sprint.

With Joss safely nestled within the main bunch, the team could turn their attention to ensuring that Majo Van’t Geloof was perfectly placed for the bunch sprint. Their efforts were rewarded when Majo unleashed an impressive kick to cross the line 5th. An incredible result considering the calibre of sprinters that she had just beaten.

Magnificent Majo sprints to 3rd

Stage 5: Colchester to Clacton

It was a relaxed day in the lanes of Essex, a solo break was given the leeway to build up a sizeable lead which led to a relaxed bunch. The mainly flat route profile once again suited the sprinter’s teams and from the off, it looked like the stage would end in a bunch sprint. So the team worked to ensure that Majo was where she needed to be for the run into the line. Their trust was once again rewarded, Majo once again unleashing a phenomenal burst of speed to power over the line in 3rd place. In doing so, Majo left many of the world’s fastest sprinters in her wake.

Final day joy for Joss

Stage 6: Haverhill to Felixstowe

The final stage sparked into life shortly after the first intermediate sprint when Eugenia Bujak went clear. Almost immediately Dani Christmas and a Team BikeExchange rider counter-attacked and set off in pursuit. Dani and her companion were eventually joined by two other riders and together they worked together to bring back the lone rider ahead. By the 77km mark, the four had become a quintet. The sprinter’s teams were not to be denied, however, and they began to eat into a lead that had at one time stood at over 3 minutes.

Disappointingly for Dani and Drops – Le Col, the catch was made just 15km from the finish. A flurry of late attacks tried to ruin the sprinter’s day, but it was all to no avail. A sprint would decide the day. Majo once again showed that the finishes of the two previous days had been anything but a fluke. Once again she unleashed that now familiar burst of power to cross the line 7th. Majo’s third top ten finish in as many days.

Summary

An incredible time trial performance, as well as an incredible team effort, led to a top ten finish overall for Joss Lowden. Considering the World Tour level of opposition the team were up against this ranks as one of the teams most outstanding achievements. Another takeaway from the Women’s Tour has to be the repeated attempts to get into the days breakaway and Majo’s hugely impressive sprinting performances on stages 4, 5, and 6.


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