After coming a cropper on the slippery streets of Suffolk on Monday, Lorena Wiebes (DSM) picked herself back up to claim a third victory on the roads of Essex in less than a fortnight on Stage 2 at the Women's Tour.
The short lumpy bumpy 92km loop provided no problems for the fastest woman in the West, as she sprinted to victory in Harlow by several bike lengths.
Barbara Guarischi (Movistar) and Shari Bossuyt (Canyon Sram) finished in second and third respectively.
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Bonus seconds picked up at both intermediate sprints ensured Clara Copponi (FDJ Nouvelle-Aquitaine Futuroscope) would keep the overall race lead, regardless of where she finished.
And if the crash-free climax was a welcome contrast to the previous stage, so the sunny southern skies made a change from the incessant drizzle. On bone dry roads the peloton paraded around a clockwise course just north of the capital.
The route took the peloton north-east out of Harlow, birthplace of Olympic great Laura Trott, towards Braintree, before turning back towards Chelmsford; the course then carried them through Chipping Ongar, skirting the M25 as the race enjoyed a stretch of Epping Forest, before heading back to where the stage began.
The bonus points and seconds on offer at the intermediate sprints meant attacks were disincentivised - the bunch reluctant to let any break hoover up the time bonuses - while a series of short, attritional climbs helped keep the bunch largely as one.
The only early excitement came at the first of the sprints, in Great Dunmow after 21km. That was taken by the competition’s incumbent, Maike van der Duin (Le Col-Wahoo) who made it three from three. The three bonus seconds that came with it took her into second place in the general classification, just one second behind Clara Copponi, who made a point of picking up a single herself.
Yesterday’s stage winner, Copponi, beat Van der Duin into second at the second sprint, the ironically named High Easter, cementing her position at the top of the overall standings.
Shortly before halfway, Sammie Stuart (Cams-Basso) decided to stretch her legs with a solo attack. Stuart was able to draw out a lead of 1'10" before being caught on the approach to the first of two categorised climbs at Toot Hill.
It was Gladys Verhulst (Le Col-Wahoo) who was first over the top as she began a serious assault on the QOM competition.
With Lily Williams (Human Powered Health) for company, Verhulst pushed on along the narrow, twisting lanes of Epping Forest. The pair made for a formidable quarry for the peloton - sometimes out of sight but seldom completely out of mind.
Verhulst also took maximum points over the second QOM, Stonards Hill. That put her level on points with Christine Majerus (SD Worx), but only briefly, as the Luxembourg rider was able to pick up one for herself to restore her advantage.
With 8km to go, and the teams preparing their leadout trains, a crash in the bunch caused a significant split in the peloton. Team DSM was the biggest of those squads caught out, before Charlotte Kool invested every ounce of her capacity as she piloted leader Wiebes back into the fold. That reduced the strength of the bunch and improved the slender chances of the two out front, who maintained a 10-second advantage with 4km left to race.
The catch, and the rejoining of the two halves of the peloton, came on the run-in to Harlow.
Under the flamme rouge Team DSM took charge at the front as they did the day before. On the wider roads, this time there would be no mishaps. Wiebes launched her sprint before everyone else and accelerated away to as straightforward a victory as you will see.
Wiebes won all three stages at May's RideLondon Classique, including two in Essex, to showcase her impressive form.

Sammie Stuart was rewarded for her solo effort out front with the day's combativity award, while Van der Dun held on to the sprints jersey.

General Classification Top Ten

1. Clara Copponi (FDJ Nouvelle-Aquitaine Futuroscope) 5:59:06
2. Maike Van der Duin (Le Col-Wahoo) +0:03s
3. Lorena Wiebes (Team DSM) +0:04s
4. Sofia Bertizzolo (UAE Team ADQ) +0:07s
5. Elena Cecchini (Team SD Worx) +0:08s
6. Barbara Guarischi (Movistar Team) +0:08s
7. Shari Bossuyt (Canyon/SRAM Racing) +0:10s
8. Alison Jackson (Liv Racing Xstra) +0:11s
9. Maria Giulia Confalonieri (Ceratizit-WNT Pro Cycling) +0:12s
10. Adriana Fidanza (Team Bike Exchange Jayco) +0:14s
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