Excerpt from Wheeler

19 June
Stage 3, Oundle to Kettering
139.2 km/86.6 miles

Welcome back to Stage 3 of the Women’s Tour of England.  I’m Peter Donnelly and alongside me is former World Champion, Michaela Navarre.
Stage 3 is set to be the hardest and longest stage of the Tour.  We’re seeing a little bit of action happening outside of Rothingham.
That’s right, Peter.  The climbers are starting to move to the front of the peloton now. Unfortunately, we hear that IDC’s Ashley Hargrove is feeling the effects of her crash yesterday and is hanging off the back. That leaves IDC a rider down at the front.

Chloe Monteith shadowed Loren as the pack flowed up the climb at Rockingham, waiting for any opportunity to catch her unawares.  When Loren stood and turned her head to see where the rest of her team was, Chloe went on the offensive.

 Oh, now that was a smack on the wrist! Monteith punishes Mackenzie for her inattentiveness at Rockingham to take the Queen of the Mountain points!
I reckon Monteith’s had enough of sitting in second, Peter!

“Shit!” Loren choked, as she saw Chloe take off out of the corner of her eye. She launched a counter of her own to catch her rival.

 Mackenzie is burning rubber to catch Monteith.  Now we can sit back with a pint and watch as the two leaders cross swords at the front!

Felix was in her ear as the two leaders reached the crest of a climb together. “Don’t play with your food, Loren.”
What a dickhead, she snarled. “Are we going to keep fighting each other and let them catch us?” Loren called out. Chloe shrugged and kept her focus on the road.
Well, alright then, if that’s the way you want to play it, Loren thought.  She hung onto Monteith’s wheel into the next turn, where she used the momentum to slingshot ahead and took the sprint points at Desborough.  Loren heard the other rider call out but she ignored her.

It looks as if the shadow boxing is over now as Mackenzie has had enough. She surges ahead of her rival and snatches the sprinter points.

As Loren leaned into the next corner, she felt her back wheel shudder and slide out from beneath her.  She hadn’t realized Chloe was so close but when she went down, they both hit the tarmac.

 Now that’s a sorry bag of tricks Monteith has broken into, Michaela!  I’m hoping that contact wasn’t on purpose!
Thankfully, the neutral car was nearby and could help to sort them out without losing too many valuable seconds.  It doesn’t appear like much damage was done to either woman or machine.

With the help of the stewards in the neutral car, the two women were able to get back underway. The competitors kept a blistering pace for several kilometers when Loren thought she heard the whistle of a tire on tarmac behind her.
Her earpiece crackled to life within seconds.  “You’re going to have company shortly,” Felix relayed.

These two have really resisted arrest, Michaela, but I see they’re about to be caught by the Law – that’s Mary Laws of Team Matrix!

The climb at Harrington was excruciating for Loren. Something in her right hip started to pinch and she couldn’t adjust enough for the muscles to relax.  It appeared that Chloe was feeling the effects of the crash as well, and their pace started to slow.

It looks like the ‘pendulum of pain’ is swinging in the leaders’ direction now and Laws is taking advantage of the slacking pace up the climb at Harrington.
With 4km to go, it looks like the dream is over for the the breakaway duo as the peloton chews them up heading into the town of Kettering. That only leaves Mary Laws out front.
They’ll have to navigate a technical curve into a roundabout within the final kilometer to chase her down.
That’s quite a big bunch heading into town, Peter. I’m not sure that’s… Oh!
Oh no! Somebody’s gotten caught up in the road furniture and a good sized bunch goes down at the front!
Mackenzie stays within the protection of the peloton and lets the sprinters have their day in court, but it’s Mary Laws of Team Matrix that takes the stage!
Sadly, we hear that Orco-Roto’s Chloe Monteith has dropped out of the Tour due to injury. That moves Team USA’s Heather Ross into second place, at 54 seconds behind race leader, Loren Mackenzie.

That evening, Felix caught up with Loren as she was headed to see Aria. “Monteith’s dropped out,” he told her. “Ross is only 54 seconds behind you.” Loren looked away and sighed.
Felix put his hand on Loren’s shoulder. “How much do you want this?” he asked. Loren pulled away from him.
“If you’re talking about the Tour, quite a bit,” she told him angrily.
“Then make it happen,” Felix directed and turned to walk back to the elevator.  Loren watched him retreat through narrowed eyes.
What is he thinking, she asked herself. I don’t like this one bit, but my hip isn’t getting better standing in the hall.
Loren spent more than her share of time with the soigneur, but she still tossed and turned for most of the night to try and find a comfortable position.

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