Ratto races to stage victory

Italy's Rossella Ratto won stage two of the Friends Life Women's Tour to seize the overall lead in torrential rain in Bedford.

Ratto (Estado de Mexico Faren) was the day's main protagonist, breaking away from the peloton early on the 118.5-kilometre second stage from Hinckley before she was joined by compatriot Susanna Zorzi (Astana).

The duo held off the charging peloton and Ratto, third at last year's World Championships, won the two-up sprint to take victory.

Olympic and world champion Marianne Vos (Rabobank) led the peloton to the line in third, six seconds behind the pair.

Leicestershire's former two-time world junior champion Lucy Garner (Great Britain) raced through her hometown of Crosby earlier in the day and was fifth.

Olympic silver medallist Lizzie Armitstead (Boels-Dolmans) was seventh and stage one winner Emma Johansson (Orica-GreenEdge) was 11th.

Armitstead is the best-placed Briton overall, 14 seconds behind Ratto, ahead of Friday's third stage, the 80.5km route from Felixstowe to Clacton-on-Sea where cross-winds could have an impact.

The race finishes in Bury St Edmunds on Sunday.