WOOD WINS STAGE TWO BUT SOEDER LEADS OVERALL

Reigning Australian road champion Oenone Wood (Team High Road) claimed victory on the second stage of the 2008 Geelong Tour today, but the leader’s purple jersey remains on the shoulders of Austrian Christiane Soeder (Cervelo – Lifeforce) after a strong performance in the opening time trial.

“Today was a hard race but my team did a good job, and I tried to do a good job too,” said Soeder. “I think that tomorrow will be hard again but I am looking forward to it.”

Eighty nine of the world’s best cyclists lined up in the opening stage of the 2008 Geelong Women’s Tour, with Soeder repeating her time trial win of the 2006 Geelong Tour, scorching the around the eight kilometre coastal circuit in 11.28.03, 35.71 seconds ahead of Sweden’s Susanne Ljungskog (Menikini Selle Italia), with German star Ina Teutenberg (Team High Road) in third.

“I wasn’t expecting to win by 30 seconds, I expected to win, but not by 30 seconds,” Soeder exclaimed after claiming her first tour leader’s jersey. “I prepared very well this year, I was not sick and had no problems.

“It was a very good winter,” added the Austrian who has been based in Melbourne for the past four weeks with her Italian team. “This [the tour] is the final preparations for Sunday (Geelong World Cup) and (preparation) for the whole season so it is very important for us being the Olympic season.”

Leonie Burford (NSWIS/Degani) was the leading Australian in the time trial with the 24 year old geologist from the isolated New South Wales town of Cobar surprising herself with her fourth place finish.

“[I didn’t expect it] at all, I was thinking top thirty,” said Burford. “I just kept thinking that I was late for work, so I will just ride as fast as I can.”

Stage Two took the riders on three laps of a picturesque 25km circuit out and back from Portarlington along the Bellarine Peninsula. Heading into the final 300m Wood unleashed a burst of speed and sailed across the line for the win.

She finished two bike lengths clear of her delighted team mate, Tuetenberg, to give High Road the quinella with Germany’s Regina Schleicher (Team Nurnberger) in third place.

“I was doing the lead out for Ina, as she is normally the best sprinter in the team, so we normally work for her,” said Wood. “But she saw a chance for me to get away, so she let me go.”

Earlier in the race New Zealand’s Serena Sheridan launched a solo attack and managed to stay clear for most of lap two but early in the final lap she was reeled in as Team High Road took control of the bunch.

“The team (High Road) did a really good job, starting with Alexis (Rhodes) and I was just the last person in the lead out before Ina (Tuetenberg),” said Wood.

Soeder will head into tomorrow’s third and final stage with a 25 second overall lead from Teutenberg with Ljungskog sitting third overall at 29 seconds.

Wood is leading the Sprint Classification and her Team High Road team mate, Linda Villumsen (DEN) is leading the Best Young Rider U23 classification.

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