Posted by Editoress on 09/28/19
Annemiek van Vleuten of the Netherland's took the Elite women's road title at the world championships on Saturday with an incredible 106 kilometre solo effort, winning by over two minutes in front of her team mate - and defending champion Anna van der Breggen, with Amanda Spratt (Australia) taking bronze. Alison Jackson was the top Canadian finisher in 16th place, 11th in the sprint by the small peloton for sixth place. Two other Canadians finished just behind the peloton, with Sara Poidevin 42nd and Karol-Ann Canuel 46th. The three other Canadians in the race - Marie Soleil Blais, Gillian Ellsay and Gabrielle Pilote-Fortin - did not finish.
"It was a really hard race and super fast from the start," said Jackson. "The tailwinds early on made the climbs very fast and hard, so we were happy to have three in the main bunch - Karol-Ann, Sara and myself. From there, it was a very attritional race, the girls did a good job of helping my in the circuits and I was feeling really good by the end. I was fourth wheel at 200 [metres] to go, and I tried to squeeze through to the right, but the final Italian lead out girl moved just enough to the right to stuff me up. It was really disappointing, because I really think we could have had a top 10. I'm really happy with how the team rode today, really good communication."
Starting in Bradford, the race covered 149.4 kilometres, after an 8.8 kilometre neutral section at the start. Unlike much of the racing earlier in the week, the women had a beautiful day of sun, albeit with some windy sections. The action did not really begin until the first major climb, Norwood Edge at 13.6 kilometres. The 1.9 kilometre climb averaged 8.3% with a maximum of 12.3%, and was packed with fans. The Netherlands showed their intent to make the race hard, with Demi Vollering setting a tempo over the climb that left only 30 in the front group by the top.
While much of the field regrouped, it set the stage for the next Lofthouse climb at 98 kilometres, a 3.5 kilometre ascent averaging 7.6% with a maximum of 13.6%. Van Vleuten attacked and no one responded; given the distance remaining, it was a reasonable assumption she could be reeled back in. However, she wasn't.
As the gap approached a minute, Great Britain's Lizzie Deignan - a former world champion and local rider, whose hometown the race went through - was the first to respond, joined by Elisa Longo Borghini (Italy), van der Breggen, Spratt, Chloe Dygert Owen (USA), Clara Koppenberg (Germany), Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig (Denmark) and Soraya Paladin (Italy). By the halfway mark, they had brought the gap below 45 seconds, but that was as close as they would get, with the impetus going out of the chase.
The gap started to go up again, and as van Vleuten hit the 14 kilometre finishing circuit for three laps, it was up over two minutes. Dygert Owen, the new time trial world champion, attacked on the first lap, quickly opening a gap on the remaining chasers - Longo Borghini, van der Breggen and Spratt, and appeared to be reeling in van Vleuten, whom she had beaten on Tuesday in the time trial by 1:52. However, the American faded badly on the second lap, appearing to have back issues, and was caught and dropped by van der Breggen and Spratt shortly after they began the final lap. With five kilometres to go, van der Breggen attacked to set up a Dutch 1-2.
Canuel: "I think the start was really stressful; everyone wanted to be in good position for the first climb. It was really cool on the climbs because there were a lot of people there; I knew there would be people, but not that many, it was pretty awesome. When we hit the circuit we just tried to position Alison for the sprint, and we got her into fourth wheel, which was pretty good. I think the three of us worked really well together and can be proud of what we did."
Poidevin: "The beginning was a bit chaotic, because everybody wants to be in [good] position going into the climb and as the roads get narrow. So, it was a big fight to the base of the climb and be as close as possible to the front group. After that, there was a bit of a reprieve until we got to the circuits, and then some teams tried some moves, but nothing got away, so it was going to be a messy bunch sprint."
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