Posted by Editoress on 10/2/10
Italy's Giorgia Bronzini World Champion after a close finish
Italy took an emotional victory in the women's road race on Saturday, with Giorgia Bronzini taking a close victory dedicated to former national team director Franco Ballerini (killed in an automobile accident) and team mate Marina Romoli (seriously injured when hit by a car while training). Marianne Vos (Netherlands) was second for the fourth consecutive time, and Emma Johansson (Sweden) took the bronze medal. Canada had a strong race, with two riders making the final selection - Tara Whitten (15th) and Erinne Willock (23rd).
The eight lap women's race started conservatively, with the first serious attack coming from American Katheryn Curi Mattis on lap four. Anne Samplonius (Canada) and Valentina Carretta (Italy) set off in pursuit, but were brought back within a lap. Curi Mattis was steadily opening a significant lead on the peloton, reaching nearly three minutes by the start of lap six. Canada had already lost Denise Ramsden from a crash in the opening kilometres, when she hit a protruding foot from one of the barriers and had to stop twice afterwards for repairs before abandoning.
Katheryn Curi Mattis was away for 4 laps
The Brits and Dutch teams had decided that it was time to up the pace by the sixth lap, and the lead began to shrink quickly, with Curi Mattis caught on lap seven. The pace was also shredding the peloton, with only 41 riders left in the main group, including Willock, Whitten and Samplonius. Canada's sprint hope Joelle Numainville was dropped on the lap six surge.
Anne Samplonius tries to bridge
"It was so hard," commented Numainville. "I am not a climber, and the climb was hard each time. I think with six laps in I got dropped. I tried to get back on each time but it is hard. This is my first World Championships and I am happy. It was too bad I couldn't make the front group but you know, I have had a good year and I am still happy."
Time trial champion Emma Pooley attacked as Curi Mattis was being reeled in, splitting the field. Defending champion Tatiana Guderzo (Italy) started chasing Pooley, followed by Vos, Judith Arndt (Germany) and Johansson. The peloton gradually regrouped, but multiple attacks continued to string out the field.
As the race began the last lap, there were less than 30 riders remaining at the front, with most of the favourites still in contention. Italy had three riders, the Dutch two, Canada two (Whitten and Willock), Great Britain four and the United States two. Vos lost her last team mate, Van Vleuten, at a critical moment, as Nicole Cooke (Great Britain) attacked.
Cooke was quickly joined by Arndt, and the pair gained twelve seconds on a chase group of ten, including Pooley, Whitten, Guderzo and Johansson. With three kilometres to go the duo were still dangling off the front as the chase group swelled to 20, as riders caught back on after the last climb.
Erinne Willock went to the front after rejoining the lead group and drove the chase in the final kilometres, bringing the group back to within 30 metres of the leaders as they entered the final kilometre. Onto the finishing straight Arndt and Cooke were desperately trying to stay clear, but Vos jumped at 250 metres to go, followed by Johansson and Bronzini.
The trio went by Arndt and Cooke with less than 100 metres to the line, with Vos out in front until the final 40 metres, when Bronzini came through on her left to take the victory. Johansson looked to be squeezed into the barrier by Vos, and actually hit her head on a spectator's extended arm (he was leaning out to take a photo). Officials reviewed the sprint repeatedly before deciding that Vos had not deviated from her line.
"For me I waited and I thought about the finale," explained Bronzini. "For me it was very hard to finish in this small group, but I believed [in myself], and my teammate [Noemi Cantele] helped me in the last lap in order for the group to stay together for the sprint. I know in the final the best wheel for me was Marianne [Vos], and with the heat and the wind I knew [to win] the bicycle race the only possibility for me was to come out in the last metres.
"We are a very strong group. We are friends first, then teammates, and together we can do a very good race. I asked my teammates to pull back [Cooke and Arndt], but they did not have so much power left. So I waited and hoped that someone would start a long sprint. And it was so."
"I thought, 'Ok I'm here, here's my chance and I must do my best for the Italian team because they are here for me and they work for me to find the win.' My victory is for him, I race for Franco Ballerini. I race for my heart and I think about the person that maybe one day was with us, Franco Ballerini."
Giorgia Bronzini (Italy) wins
Whitten finished with the group, but was disappointed with her sprint. "I was happy with my climbing today but I need to work on being able to sprint at the end of all of those climbs! Erinne wasn't feeling that great today, so she said she would do her best to lead me out and she did an amazing job pulling back those two [Cooke and Arndt], but I just did not have the legs to do anything with it. Erinne was on the front [coming into the last corner] and there were a few girls coming round and I tried to get on their wheels but my legs were just toast. It was just a couple too many climbs.
Willock explained "I went to the front to try to help Tara and hoped she might have a sprint in the end. We didn't discuss anything, I just went to the front. There was really nothing else to do. It didn't work out in our favour, but at least we tried. My god, it hurt. I knew that if I could just keep the break even on this long drag up to the finish then the sprinters would have a chance to catch them."
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