Megan Armitage became the first ever Irish woman to win a UCI-ranked stage race today at the Vuelta Extremadura Féminas (2.2), racing for Arkéa Pro Cycling
Friday evening saw the 7km team trial go to the Arkéa Pro Cycling squad by a mere four seconds to the Stade Rochelais Charente-Maritime team, with Zaaf Cycling a close 2 seconds from the runners-up.
Armitage started Saturday’s stage fifth overall, on the same time as her team-mate and race leader Marie-Morgane Le Deunff. Stage two took place over 122km with 1,066m of climbing. The race came down to a large bunch sprint with Armitage finishing 14th overall, with Soltech’s Fiona Mangan in 26th on the same time. The result saw Armitage move to 6th overall on GC with Arkéa dominating the overall standings, claiming 7 of the top 10 spots after stage 2.
Going in to the final Sunday’s final stage with a deficit of 6 seconds, the 88km stage with 1818m of climbing was clearly a course which worked to Armitage’s strength. Breaking away on the main climb of the day, she was caught by the chasers. However, the Arkéa squad were there to dominate.
Armitage’s Canadian teammate Cala Emond, wearing the QOH jersey, put the power down in the final 4km, with Armitage the only rider from the group of seven to match her and go with her. The two riders opened up a small gap, with the group they had left behind splintering on the road losing any attempt at a cohesive chase.
With 300m to go Armitage attacked and held her lead until the line. The time bonus for crossing first at 12 seconds was enough to give Armitage the GC win by a close 6 seconds, and set her name in the Irish cycling history books as the first ever Irish woman to win a UCI-ranked stage race.
You can watch the action from the final stage here.
Next up for Megan is the Tour de Normandie Féminin on the 17th of March.