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Stage 1 - 3
Stage 1: Le Pouzin – Beauchastel (113km)
The first stage is often seen as the easiest stage of the race, however, torrential rain and uncharacteristic thunderstorms had kept most of the peloton awake at night. The rain continued right up until the start of the stage but until 15 minutes before the start team managers and organisers were discussing whether or not it was responsible to send the riders out in a thunderstorm. The rain suddenly disappeared so the race departed.
The stage was won by Sharon Laws of the Cervelo Test Team, who managed to break away from the peloton with Australian Vicki Whitelaw. The Rapha Condor girls all finished in the first or second peloton without too much problem, bar a quick slip from Natasha Perry on a wet patch of tarmac. After the stage the riders had time to reflect on the day and what was still to come.
Stage 2: Vals le Bain – Vals le Bain (3.5km ITT)
A short climbing Time Trial, 1km uphill and then 2.5 km downhill on the other side. After another night of heavy thunderstorms, the course was nearly unrideable, on the descent numerous driveways had washed down the hill over the course leaving a thick layer of mud and gravel on the road. The course was perhaps more suitable for mountain bikes rather than time trial bikes.
Before the first rider set off the organisation had made a massive effort to clear the roads best as possible. The riders that set off later also benefitted from a fast drying course as the sun came out and the times got faster.
Australian climber Ruth Corsett set the fastest time at 5.32. Three Rapha Condor riders managed to finish in the top 30, putting the team in 7th on the team classification.
Stage 3: Vals le Bain – Le Teil (90km)
A relatively short stage, but topped off with a 15km climb to Freyssenet, followed by a 25km descent to the finish in Le Teil. This was the first proper chance for the climbers to make the difference with the rest of the peloton. Although there were no real attacks up the hill, the peloton exploded into numerous groups. A lead group of 16 riders managed to break away and battle for victory. Cervelo’s Lizzie Armitstead won the stage, however, one of the biggest surprises of the day was Rapha Condor’s Anna Fischer finishing an incredible 10th place, moving her up to 11th on General Classification.