After a stunning solo victory on Stage 2 of the Mersey Valley Tour, the High5 Dream Team’s Lucy Kennedy has made it back to back wins after outsprinting tour winner Grace Brown to take the Stage 3 victory. Kennedy also picked up six points over the three climbs, to stitch up the Queen of the Mountains jersey.
For Kennedy, the two stage wins helped to offset the disappointment of crashing in the opening stage time trial.
‘I’m very happy to take a second stage win. I was highly motivated coming into this tour – I wanted to win the tour, but the focus obviously shifted after the Stage 1 crash to going for stage wins.’
With a strong Holden Women’s Racing outfit dictating proceedings, it was up to Kennedy’s High5 Dream Team teammates to get her into the best position for the final climb of the day.
‘Holden were taking some control and protecting the jersey, but the High5 Dream Team did a great job leading into the final climb. We were all at the front and Ruby led me perfectly into the start of the climb. Tessa and Jess both climbed really well and put in some strong efforts at the front on the early part of the climb to protect me.’
‘The stage was raced more aggressively than yesterday and split up more with harder climbs on each of the two loops before the final climb. The final climb wasn’t as hard as Gunns Plains yesterday, but still tough enough to do a lot of damage.’
The stage wasn’t without drama after another rider crashed into Kennedy after the first climb, sending her to the ground again, before a frenetic chase back to the leaders.
‘After yesterday I did feel confident I would be able to repeat today. But after crashing again on the same side as Friday and then chasing back on, I was pretty sore, and my shoulder was hurting when I got out of the saddle. I tried to conserve as much energy as I could until the final climb.’
‘I went as hard as I could manage up the climb and it was only Grace with me at the top. I then played the tactical game and stayed on her wheel until sprinting past at the finish. While the crash hurt me physically, it fired me up even more and made me want to win even more!’
In a return to form for the defending series champions, young gun Jessica Pratt finished second in the Under 23 Classification, and the team won the Teams General Classification.
The National Road Series now pauses for the winter break, with the High5 Dream Team back in action at the 2017 Tour of the King Valley from 25 August.