Show caption Marta Bastianelli celebrates winning the opening stage of the Women’s Tour of Britain in Banbury. Photograph: Justin Setterfield/Getty Images
Italian holds off Chloe Hosking to take bunch sprint
Fatigued Lizzie Deignan finishes well down the field
Marta Bastianelli sprinted to a first-ever stage win in the Women’s Tour of Britain in Banbury, as a last-gasp breakaway was reeled in after attacking on the final climb of stage one, to Sibford Ferris.
The Italian, fifth in Saturday’s Paris-Roubaix Femmes behind race winner Lizzie Deignan, was the fastest finisher after the peloton had caught a five-rider attack on the run-in to Banbury and will now defend the leader’s jersey in Tuesday’s second stage, a circuit starting and finishing in Walsall.
“There was a breakaway with about two or three kilometres to go, and a big crash at one kilometre to go,” Bastianelli said. “Luckily, I didn’t crash, and started the sprint in third position, which for me was the maximum. But the sprint wasn’t easy. It was a little bit uphill, but for me, it was a good day.”
The 34-year-old former world champion, who rides for the Alé BTC Ljubljana team, held off Deignan’s Trek-Segafredo teammate, Chloe Hosking, and Clara Copponi to become the oldest stage winner in the history of the Women’s Tour. A fatigued Deignan finished 40th, 26 seconds behind Bastianelli, with Hannah Barnes, of Canyon SRAM Racing, the highest-placed British rider in sixth.
However, Bastianelli does not see herself as a likely overall winner. “To win [overall] will be very difficult because there is the time trial, which is not the best for me,” she said, “but I will see day by day and maybe win another stage, or get in another breakaway in another stage.”
On a relatively uneventful stage, rerouted at one point following a road traffic accident, many of those on the start line in Bicester were still recovering from their efforts in last Saturday’s first-ever women’s Paris-Roubaix. Bastianelli, however, was among those with fresher legs.
Hosking, who made a winning return to racing in August’s Tour of Norway after recovering from Covid-19, took second place on the stage but her team’s hopes of mounting a sustained challenge were dented by the abandon of Italian national champion, Elisa Longo Borghini, who was still recovering from her efforts in finishing third in Roubaix at the weekend.
“I felt really supported all day which as a sprinter is really nice, with everyone backing me for the finish,” Hosking said. “I dodged the crash with just under a kilometre to go and was just surfing wheels. Maybe I opened my sprint a little bit early [as] I just ran out of legs in the last five metres and had to settle for second.”