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Franz in polka dots

QOM jersey for neo-pro, Maine seventh in France

Rally Cycling’s Heidi Franz claimed the QOM jersey on stage two of the Tour de l’Ardèche today. The Washington State native infiltrated the day’s breakaway and won maximum points over the Col of Viaux. The breakaway nearly stayed away but was caught with only four km remaining. With Franz spinning in comfortably after the classification lead, the rest of the team led out Canadian Road Champion Katherine Maine in the field sprint to finish seventh.

The double-day started with stage one to Beauchastel, a 65 km journey north along the Rhone River. Gillian Ellsay represented the team in the breakaway before being swallowed up by the chasing peloton. All riders finished safely in the pack as Alexis Ryan (Canyon SRAM) won the field sprint ahead of Arlenis Sierra (Astana).

Stage two sent the riders over the first climb of this year’s Tour de l’Ardèche, the Col of Viaux. A breakaway of 12 established itself early on and Franz bridged across. In a hotly contested race for the climber’s jersey, Franz edged out USA Cycling’s Leah Thomas.

Franz climbing with QOM sprint line in sight.

“It feels amazing,” said Franz. “It’s the first UCI jersey I have ever claimed. I feel like I have learned so much since the start of the season and I never would have imagined myself standing on a European podium by the end of the year. Racing in Europe is a challenge and something that I love.”

With their eyes set on a field sprint with the Canadian Road Champion, Rally Cycling tasked Franz to cover any dangerous groups going up the road.

The Rally Cycling train forms in the peloton.

“The plan for the afternoon stage was to be on break patrol,” said Franz. “We were going to work for Katherine Maine in the likely sprint finish but once I got into the break I knew the QOM jersey was up for grabs. The real climbing starts on stage three and with GC being our main priority, we’ll have to see how the breakaways shake out. If the opportunity presents itself to earn more points and keep the jersey, I won’t let it pass me by!”

The major climbs start on the 129 km third stage to Villeneuve-de-Berg tomorrow, with the opening 33 km being all uphill to the summit of the Col de Montivernoux. The peloton is expected to regroup for another bunch kick ahead of two major climbing stages this weekend.

Stage 2 Results
1 SIERRA Arlenis ASA CUB
2 RYAN Alexis CSR USA
3 ANDERSEN Susanne NORVEGE NOR
4 JACKSON Alison TIB CAN
5 HANNES Kaat BELGIQUE BEL
6 WINDER Ruth ETATS UNIS USA
7 MAINE Katherine RLW CAN 
8 SHEKEL Olga UKRAINE UKR
9 VOLLERING Demi SWA NED
10 BORGLI Stine NORVEGE NOR

QOM standings after stage two
1 FRANZ Heidi RLW 3
2 THOMAS Leah ETATS UNIS 2
3 DOBRYNINA Kseniia SER 1