Black Mountain – Everything to play on the queen stage of the Women’s Tour


Stage 4 of the Women’s Tour was the first of two stages in Wales, and the hilly terrain provided excellent racing with a group of three sprinting for the stage and time gaps commanding the GC before the stage 5 at Black Mountain, the first-ever mountaintop finish in the British stage race which is sure to decide the winner.

The Women’s Tour had already had an uphill finish when it ended at Burton Dassett Country Park on Stage 4 in 2019, but that climb was only 1.2 kilometers long. By contrast, The Black Mountain climb (Y Mynydd Du in Welsh) will be nine kilometers long, testing the mountain stages of the peloton and meaning one climber will win the race overall.

Two of those climbers are Canyon-SRAM teammates Katarzyna Niewiadoma, winner of the 2019 stage at Burton Dassett Country Park and Stage 4 runner-up, and current QOM green jersey wearer Elise Chabbey.

“We have a strong team here, we are motivated and it shows in our races. Both Kasia and I are now in a good position in the GC, and Kasia showed today that she is strong. We are really excited to go racing tomorrow,” Chabbey said after Stage 4 where the two riders were part of a leading group for nearly 80 kilometers covered.

Niewiadoma is second overall, four seconds behind stage 4 winner Grace Brown (FDJ Nouvelle-Aquitaine Futuroscope), while Chabbey is fifth overall at 17 seconds. Having two cards to play can work in their favor – Niewiadoma is normally considered the better climber of the two, but Chabbey should not be underestimated: a 13th place on the climb to Lagunas de Neila in the recent Vuelta a Burgos Féminas and The Itzulia Women’s mountain jersey attests to its climbing abilities.

The Montagne Noire was first visited in 2019 when the final stage to Pembrey Country Park – where Friday’s stage will start – took the climb. Elisa Longo Borghini (Trek-Segafredo), third in stage 4, remembers the first visit well: “It’s a good finish; I have good memories of 2019 with Lizzie (Deignan) because we escaped on this stage, and she won the Tour. , so let’s see what tomorrow has in store for us,” said the Italian champion.

Longo Borghini is six seconds behind Brown on GC. She will be the leader of her team on the queen stage and has often placed well in the stage races, but the long climb may be a little too long for her to fight for the overall victory.

Brown herself is leading a WWT stage race for the second time after winning Stage 1 of the 2021 Vuelta a Burgos Féminas where she eventually finished seventh overall following a ninth-place finish over Lagunas de Neila. It’s in Brown’s favor that The Black Mountain is shorter than the Spanish climb, and the leader’s yellow jersey will give him extra motivation.

“Obviously I want to be up there on the final climb, I think that’s what it’s going to come down to. I’m happy now that I have some buffer and time, if I finish with the best climbers so hopefully I can keep the jersey,” Brown said after Stage 4.

Other than Niewiadoma, the biggest threat to Brown will be Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio. The South African veteran is retiring from cycling after the 2022 season, and winning a WWT stage race is one of the goals she has yet to achieve. The 36-year-old lost ten seconds plus time bonuses to Brown, Niewiadoma and Longo Borghini in Stage 4 and is 18 seconds from the yellow jersey so she must attack to win.

There’s also Team BikeExchange-Jayco’s Kristen Faulkner to consider. In her first full European season in 2021, the Alaskan impressed with a sixth place finish on the Norefjell mountain stage and third place overall in the Ladies Tour of Norway. She is an offensive rider and must close a 46-second deficit on Brown, promising an exciting final climb.

Last but not least, the EF Education-TIBCO-SVB duo of Veronica Ewers and Krista Doebel-Hickok will also want to play a part. Ewers was in the lead pack in Stage 4 but, like Faulkner, lost 36 seconds plus time bonuses to Brown at the end. Doebel-Hickok finished with the peloton. Both are more than a minute behind Brown and will need to race aggressively if they are to aim for the stage or the GC win.


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