Wood Anemone The Churnet Valley - The Women's Tour 2017
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In 2017, stage 2 of the Aviva Women's Tour, based in Stoke-on-Trent, cut through the Churnet Valley at Froghall. I took a walk up through Moseymoor Wood to the point where the footpath out of Cloughhead Wood meets the Froghall/Ipstones road, north of the Hermitage. This part of the stage, from Froghall to the old Red Lion on Ipstones Edge, was a Skoda Queen of the Mountains climb.

Click the images to enlarge.

The first rider to appear was Team Sunweb's Lucinda Brand, on the one-woman breakaway that would win her the Stage Two Combativity Award but not, ultimately, the stage.

Next up the hill were Canyon Sram Racing's Trixi Worrack followed by Boels Dolmans Cyclingteam's Christine Majerus.

Not far behind were Orica Scott's Sarah Roy and Cervelo-Bigla Pro Cycling Team's Clara Koppenburg, just ahead of the lead chasing group.

I wasn't the only spectator, at this point. Three horses in a neighbouring field were following the action with much excited galloping. They even made it into the TV coverage. I didn't.

The brutality of the long climb was splitting the field into small groups.

The faces of some of the riders showed the pain of their exertions.

Towards the back of the field, Team Wnt Pro Cycling's Hayley Jones wasn't having a good day.

Also suffering was Anna Trevisi. She had started strongly and finished second in the Eisberg Sprint at Rocester but had dropped away on the climb to be dead last.

In the end, the breakaways were all caught and Boels Dolmans Cyclingteam's Amy Pieters won the stage in a sprint. The race leader, Wm3 Pro Cycling Team's Katarzyna Niewiadoma, finished in a comfortable fifth, retaining her 1 minute 46 second lead from stage 1.