Ruth Winder surprises with second place in uphill sprint

Letizia Paternoster also sixth in a tricky finish to Tour Down Under stage three

The Trek-Segafredo women look like they have been teammates for years despite only three days into to working with each other for the first time. American Ruth Winder, arriving from battling winter in Colorado, showed she could take on the Aussies in peak-season and sprinted to second place in the thorny uphill stage three finish at the Santos Tour Down Under adding another top result in the four-day race.

Winder explained: “So we were coming down to the sprint, which was a fast finish, the last 10k went by pretty fast, and we were setting up Letizia (Paternoster). In the end, we had Tayler (Wiles), Elisa (Longo Borghini), me and Letizia and we were lined up really well, but we started too early. And then it just turned into a drag race with the leadout girls, and with about 500 or so meters to go, Mitchelton-Scott came by us really fast with three riders, and I just jumped on (Amanda) Spratt’s wheel, and from then on, I am not really entirely sure what happened.”

What happened was Winder still had the legs, even after her long leadout, to launch a sprint, while the tricky finish got the better of others.

Spratt and another rider blew up, and I came around them, and I sprinted as fast as I could, but I couldn’t quite catch Gracie (Brown). But really, I am happy to get second and happy to get a little bit of confidence from that and seeing that these little uphill kickers – I always knew they suited me best, but it’s good to get a result on one again.

Winder finished behind Grace Brown (Mitchelton-Scott) for second place, a pleasant surprise for the team, while Paternoster arrived in sixth, adding another good result to Trek-Segafredo’s maiden voyage.

We had another good day as a team – that seems to be something I say frequently so far this stage race, but we have really good feeling in the team and really good communication.

- Ruth Winder

Stage three was a day ripe for a breakaway, but despite Trek-Segafredo’s attempts no escape group formed and the race ended in a bunch sprint.

“Early in the race, we were trying for a breakaway, it was a shorter day today, only about 100kms, and with lots of rolling hills and changes in direction we thought it would be a good day for a breakaway,” added Winder. “It was strange, again no else really wanted that today.”

When it was apparent no breakaway would establish, the team altered its plan and focused on a sprint finish. The team formed a leadout for the fast legs of Paternoster, who won stage one, with perhaps the only fault starting too soon for the uphill finish, but Winder was able to salvage an outstanding result from the error.

“We were close, and the girls raced really well, and it’s great to see how they could change the plan by communicating with each other,” said team director Ina Teutenberg.  “In the end, they might have ended up in a little bit of miscommunication because they are not used to each other and there’s a language barrier, but they have been racing so well together in these first races.”