With her victory at the Trofeo Alfredo Binda-Comune di Cittiglio on Sunday, Marianne Vos (CCC-Liv) equalled Maria Canins' record of four wins at the Italian race. Vos already held a special place in the race history with victories in 2009, 2010, and 2012, and was honoured for these three wins at the team presentation Saturday evening. Less than 24 hours later, she added another victory in a race close to her heart.
"It was a nice gesture at the presentation," said Vos. "During the race there were lots of people cheering me on, so I'm happy to be here. It's special to win here for the fourth time."
Vos continued that her team's tactics were to tire out and drop the sprinters in a race that always comes down to a fight between climbers and sprinters.
"It was our plan that Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio would make the race hard in the last two laps. The other girls – Jeanne Korevaar and Riejanne Markus in particular – kept the race together before that.
"That was very important, so I owe this one to the team. Ashleigh attacked several times on the climbs, which led to only a small group being left in the final. I knew then that there was a chance of winning the sprint."
On the descent towards the finish, Vos was at the front of the group, closing down moves by Amanda Spratt (Mitchelton-Scott) and Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig (Bigla), who she judged too dangerous to let go. After that, Vos’ teammate Moolman-Pasio took the lead and led out the group for the sprint.
"I stayed calm and tried to stay out of the wind, but you cannot always gamble, so I had to cover some attacks," added Vos. "I didn't know that the chasing group was so close behind; I just asked Ashleigh to drive the group from the front. I was in the zone, totally focused on my own positioning for the last corner."
Spratt had crashed out of Strade Bianche and returned to racing at the Trofeo Binda. Her teammates attacked several times, with Grace Brown in a solo breakaway for one lap, before Spratt made her own move in the final, eventually taking second place.
"It's nice to step back into racing with this result," said Spratt. "It gives me a lot of confidence for my upcoming goals. I felt great all day. We had a plan to make the race hard and just went for it. I'm proud of the way we raced.
"With 5km to go, I tried one attack but was chased back by Vos. Then I decided to try my luck in the sprint. We can be proud of second place, especially to a rider like Marianne Vos. I am grateful to all the girls who backed me to give me this opportunity."
When Brown was out front on the third-to-last lap, Leah Thomas (Bigla) tried to bridge up to her. Again, this was part of the team strategy to make it a hard race, and it paid off when Uttrup Ludwig made the selection on the final climb. The young Dane tried to get away several times, but Vos was on her wheel each time, and the Dutchwoman proved unbeatable in the sprint.
"We are a young team, and it was such a joy to see the girls attacking again and again," said Uttrup Ludwig. "For me, it was about waiting and then giving it my all on the final lap. It's still rare for me to be able to shape the final like this, and I felt a bit meek in the situation.
"Fortunately, I had a good sports director on the radio with Thomas Campana. It was a great feeling to be able to give something back, and a good result like this lifts the whole team."