Grace Brown has claimed her first stage victory of the year and moved into the overall lead at the Women’s Tour race in England after a stage-four sprint finish in Welshpool on Friday.
- The 29-year-old Brown has snatched the yellow jersey in the Women’s Tour with two stages left
- She leads the race by four seconds after beating 2017 winner Kasia Niewiadoma in a fourth-stage final sprint
- Elise Chabbey currently holds the Queen of the Mountains jersey, while Maike van der Duin has an unassailable lead in the sprint category
Brown, who represents FDJ Nouvelle-Aquitaine Futuroscope, initiated the breakaway five kilometres from the finish line and managed to edge out 2017 champion Kasia Niewiadoma (Canyon/SRAM Racing) and Elisa Longo Borghini (Trek – Segafredo) in the final 100 metres to win the 144.8-kilometre stage from Wrexham.
The victory sees Brown claim the yellow jersey for the first time this Tour, with Poland’s Niewiadoma just four seconds behind, heading into the penultimate stage in Carmarthenshire on Saturday.
The second-last stage culminates with a 7.2km climb up Black Mountain, which has some of the steepest gradients of the entire race.
“I was pretty happy,” Brown said.
“I had planned before today that I wanted to be aggressive in the final. It’s cool when you play out your plan and it comes off. I guess there’s a bit of relief because this is my first win for the year and I’ve been wanting it for a little while.
“You’re more likely to stay away if you’ve got three [riders clear]. I thought I could beat those two in a sprint, so I was quite happy about it actually. It was nice to have them in the final.”
Brown said she’s readying herself for the prospect that the title will be decided in Saturday’s climb, which veers up at a 21 per cent gradient in some places.
“Obviously I want to be up there on the final climb [tomorrow], I think that’s what it’s going to come down to,” she said.
“I’m happy now that I’ve got a little bit of buffer and time, so if I finish with the top climbers, I can hopefully retain the jersey.”
The Queen of the Mountains jersey has also changed riders, moving from Christine Majerus (Team SDWorx) to 2021 winner Elise Chabbey (Canyon/SRAM Racing), who has a 14-point lead.
Maike van der Duin looks set to take out the sprint classification, holding a seven-point lead over the next-best sprinter, meaning she will retain the jersey heading into the final stage regardless of the points on offer.