Wood Anemone The Churnet Valley - The Women's Tour 2016
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In 2016, stage 4 of the Aviva Wonmen's Tour, from Nottingham to Stoke-on-Trent, cut through the Churnet Valley at Oakamoor.


Click the images to enlarge.

I picked up the race in the morning, nowhere near the Churnet Valley but about a mile from my house. For some reason, the race was routed around Derby, instead of through it. Approaching Swarkestone, the peloton was tightly bunched and more-or-less stayed that way until the Queen of the Mountains climbs.

For the afternoon, I drove up to Oakamoor and made my way up to Hawksmoor, on the second Queen of the Mountains climb. By this time, the peloton had fragmented into small groups and lone riders. The first group to appear consisted of Elisa Longo Borghini, Lizzie Armitstead, Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio and Emma Johansson. These were closely followed by a group of fifteen riders, so quickly I didn't manage to photograph them.

These were followed, not far behind, by a group including Britain's Hannah Barnes (no. 3) and Rebeca Durrell (no. 133).

And, a little behind the group, came Hannah Payton.

And, a bit behind her, Anouska Koster from The Netherlands.

Sweden's Emilia Fahlin had lead the stage, for a while, but the Oakamoor climb had been her downfall and now she was dropping back.

Two minutes behind the leaders, this group were keeping each other company, close to the back of the field.

After a few more stragglers, the broom van came through and it was all over. Since I was there, I went for a walk around Greendale, Dimmingsdale and Toot Hill before heading home. Later that evening, I watched the ITV4 coverage and, as is "traditional", spotted myself at the side of the road (behind Lizzie Armitstead).


In the end, Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio won the climb and Marianne Vos won the stage in an exciting sprint into Hanley. Lizzie Armitstead, however, retained the yellow jersey and finished well enough, on the next day's final stage, to take the overall win.