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WORLDS’22 Women’s RR: Stunning Van Vleuten Victory!

Van Vleuten late attack

Worlds Race Report: At the end of an exciting finalé it was the season’s big winner Annemiek van Vleuten, riding with a fractured elbow, who attacked in the last kilometre and none of the chasing group could bring her back before the finish line. Lotte Kopecky was second, Silvia Persico third.

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A successful late attack for Annemiek van Vleuten

Annemiek van Vleuten of the Netherlands is the new women’s World road race champion. The Dutch rider surprised with a late jump in the final kilometre. Lotte Kopecky won the sprint for silver, Silvia Persico took bronze.

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Very happy!

The women’s World road race championships consisted of 164.3 kilometres. After a short, relatively flat, opening section of 30 kilometres, they had the Mount Keira (6.5km at 6.2%) the climb. After the descent of that climb, the riders hit the local circuit, which the women’s peloton had to complete six times.

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An urban final circuit

The first attack of the day came from Swiss rider, Elena Hartmann, but she didn’t stay ahead of the peloton for long. Gladys Verhulst was a bit better. The French rider had the lead for a while, but was caught again on Mount Keira. On the climb Shirin van Anrooij was in difficulty and had to pull out all the stops not to lose the peloton. The Italian Marta Bastianelli, Danish Emma Norsgaard and the Australian Josie Talbot also had a hard time, but in the end all four were able to rejoin.

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Early break with Elynor Bäckstedt with Julie Van De Velde of Belgium and Caroline Andersson of Sweden

After the descent of Mount Keira the race was quiet. Julie Van de Velde (Belgium), Elynor Bäckstedt (Great Britain) and Caroline Andersson (Sweden) went on the attack. The three were not chased by the peloton. When the gap widened to 1:30, the German and Australian teams started to chase. Lotte Kopecky crashed just before the foot of the first climb of Mount Pleasant (1.1km at 7.7%). However, the Belgian rider immediately jumped back on her bike. Aude Biannic fired the first attack on Mount Pleasant, but she couldn’t make the crossing. Bäckstedt, whose sister Zoe took gold in the juniors a few hours earlier, and Van de Velde were the stronger riders in the leading group. Andersson was dropped the second time up Mount Pleasant and was caught together with Biannic.

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The Italians and the Netherlands wanted to control the race

It was the Italian team who had taken the lead. The entire Italian team settled in the front row of the peloton. Defending champion Elisa Balsamo and her teammates were especially prominent before and during the climbs. During the third climb of Mount Pleasant, the door was wide open at the back of the peloton. More and more riders had to let go. Elena Cecchini (Italy) made the jump after the top to the two remaining escapees. In the peloton the pace had increased, partly due to the Dutch team. Ellen van Dijk and Van Anrooij in particular showed themselves for the first time on the front.

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The early break was pulled in

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The speed was picking up in the bunch

At 54 kilometres from the finish, the three leaders were caught. Immediately after that, Slovenian Spela Kern attacked. The solo of the 32-year-old Kern did not last long, less than 10 kilometres later she was back in the thinned out peloton. Balsamo had a particularly difficult time during the fourth climb of Mount Pleasant, the Italian was brought back to the peloton by Vittoria Guazzini. The Australian women were very active on the fourth circuit. Amanda Spratt, Brodie Chapman, Grace Brown and Sarah Roy attacked one by one. 36-year-old Roy was the one who took a good gap. Italy gave chase in the peloton. Meanwhile, the heavens opened. In the pouring rain, the Italian riders caught Roy and started the penultimate climb of Mount Pleasant.

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The weather turned nasty through the finish

Katarzyna Niewiadoma was the first to clear the steep sections. Elisa Longo Borghini, Lianne Lippert, Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig and Ashleigh Moolman were able to follow and provided a strong leading group of five. Just before the top, Lippert attacked, only Longo Borghini was able to go with her. The duo rode together for a few kilometres, but with 20 kilometres there was another leading group of five. Behind was a large group with Van Vleuten, Van Dijk, Vos, Kopecky, Silvia Persico, Marlen Reusser and Mavi García in pursuit. Van Dijk and Van Vleuten were in the lead and were 19 seconds behind the leaders at the start of the last lap of 17 kilometres.

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Kopecky was never far from the front

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Many eyes were on Vos, but…

The collaboration wasn’t smooth in the leading group. The gap became smaller and smaller and with a final turn by World time trial champion Van Dijk, the chasing group closed in. Swiss rider Reusser then tried before the final ascent of Mount Pleasant. Third in the World time trial championships took a good gap and started the last climb of the day with a lead of 20 seconds. Lippert, Niewiadoma, Moolman, Uttrup Ludwig and Longo Borghini were again the strongest riders on Mount Pleasant and they closed the gap to Reusser. Lippert and Niewiadoma accelerated one last time, catching Reusser.

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The winning move for Annemiek van Vleuten

The pursuers came over the top 18 seconds from the five leaders. A group including Reusser, Van Vleuten and Kopecky worked reasonably well together and crept closer and closer. Vos had missed the move and was behind. The five front-runners didn’t work well together at the front again and we had a close battle in the final kilometres. Chabbey closed the last gap entering the last kilometre. It looked like a big favourites group would sprint for the win, but Van Vleuten had other plans. The Dutch rider surprised with a late, powerful attack in the final kilometre and was able to stay ahead of the sprinting peloton. With a broken elbow, Van Vleuten went for gold. Kopecky sprinted to second place and hit her handlebars with disappointment. Silvia Persico took bronze. Van Vleuten has won the Giro d’Italia, the Tour de France, the Vuelta a España and the World championships for women all in the same year.

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Van Vleuten held on for the win

World champion, Annemiek van Vleuten (Netherlands): “I knew this was the only chance. I was just waiting and waiting for them to come over me, but they didn’t! I can’t believe it! I’m actually waiting for someone to come to me and tell me it’s not true. In the final phase I was always looking back at Marianne Vos. I felt they were not coming back. I also knew I couldn’t sprint with my broken elbow. I had to attack from behind. That was the only chance I had. The pain was hell. I couldn’t get out of the saddle all day, I had to stay put all the time. My legs exploded on every climb. I had such a different plan for Wednesday than now… I already wanted to attack Mount Keira in the opening lap. But my game was completely different now. Marianne was the only lead lady. I was a servant with a broken elbow and now I am World champion! Both titles have a story, but they are very different. I doubted whether I should wear my special earrings (which she got from her deceased father). But they bring good luck, so I did. Actually I wanted to do a Yorkshire 2.0 today. But that was not possible due to the fracture of the elbow… Now I attack in the last kilometre, a completely different story. Now I am World champion in my last year of my career. That’s why I was so disappointed with that elbow at first. After Yorkshire I wore my rainbow jersey in the COVID year. That was not the best and most beautiful season to wear that beautiful jersey. Now I will be able to enjoy it to the fullest.”

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World Championship Women’s Road Race Result:
1. Annemiek van Vleuten (Netherlands) in 4:24:25
2. Lotte Kopecky (Belgium) at 0:01
3. Silvia Persico (Italy)
4. Liane Lippert (Germany)
5. Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig (Denmark)
6. Arlenis Sierra (Cuba)
7. Juliette Labous (France)
8. Katarzyna Niewiadoma (Poland)
9. Elise Chabbey (Switzerland)
10. Elisa Longo Borghini (Italy).

World Championships 2022 – Women’s U23 Road Race Result:
1. Niamh Fisher-Black (NZ)
2. Pfeiffer Georgi (GB)
3. Ricarda Bauernfeind (Ger).

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