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Saint Just d’Ardeche – Saint Martin d’Ardeche (89km)
The final stage took the riders out on one big loop and two smaller loops all incorporating a 10km climb out of Saint Martin d’Ardeche. With the difference between number one and number two in the GC less than five seconds, the top teams still had everything to play for. This did, however, mean that the stage was raced at a ferocious pace as attacks came thick and fast. Only one rider managed to get away from the peloton but behind her the leaders kept attacking each other continuously up the climb.
In the end Carla Ryan from Cervelo managed to stay away, the peloton nearly a minute behind. The Rapha Condor girls rode their best stage of the tour, with all six riders still in the lead peloton going up the final climb of the day.
Australian Vicki Whitelaw managed to take the overall victory with a winning margin of four seconds over Sharon Laws. The Rapha Condor team amazed many of the followers of the tour with Anna Fischer finishing in 12th, Natalie Creswick 19th, Alli Holland 27th, Natasha Perry 51st, Emma Grant 55th and Rebecca Curley 58th in a field of over 100 starters.
In the team classification Rapha Condor managed a 5th place overall, only being beaten by the UCI registered teams, but beating the national teams of Australia, France, Belgium, Holland, Norway, Lithuania and Switzerland in the process. A great result and although very tired, the riders went home boosted by the results.
Alli Holland recapped the experience:
“It was a real treat to be in a team full of positivity and genuine passion for cycling. This was a tough race and I spent the whole week in the "red" pushing as hard as I could to stay with the group in front. It was also the longest stage race we'd done and against some of the best riders around. The scenery was stunning, the weather good and the hills brutal, not because they were steep or too long, but as attacks were made and the top climbing girls went for the primes, the pace increased and everyone suffered! I could only watch in awe as Nat and Anna climbed away with the lead group…
The team kept consistently kicking out the results and remaining strong in a tough field. As we progressed, the Rapha Condor team held their own in 5th place, beating every National team there. We were proud and knackered - even when things went wrong; cables broke, riders crashed; they brushed it off, got back on and kept riding… Respect, a great bunch of girls to share the experience with!”