Lizzie Armitstead wins Strade Bianche Women

World champion wins in Italy

Boels Dolmans remains the team to beat in the early season as world champion Lizzie Armitstead scored the squad’s fourth road win of the year at UCI Women’s WorldTour opener Strade Bianche. The Briton beat out Kasia Niewiadoma (Rabo-Liv) and Emma Johansson (Wiggle-High5) to the top step of the podium in Siena’s Piazza del Campo on Saturday. The trio broke away from a reduced peloton following the fifth of seven gravel sectors.

“It wasn’t really the plan,” said Armitstead, who insisted in a pre-race conference on Friday that while the race was a team target, it was not a personal objective. “My legs are better than I expected. Training has been going good but not really this good. I’m excited that my legs are already like this because I think there’s still room to improve.”

Armitstead is now batting two-for-two in the rainbow jersey, and, as she pointed out to Cyclingnews post-race, she’s won her last four races – GP Plouay, which earned her the World Cup overall, and the World Championships to close out the 2015 season. She can now count wins at Omloop Het Nieuwsblad and Strade Bianche to open the season.

Her victory in Siena came with the honour of donning the first Women’s WorldTour jersey, making her the last women to wear the (now defunct) World Cup series jersey, and the first women to wear the Women’s WorldTour jersey.

“We’ve already started the season really well,” Armitstead said. “The Hour Record was fantastic. Already, three victories in Europe and one in Qatar; it’s difficult to improve on that. The hardest thing is to be on the top all the time. It doesn’t come easy. We make it look easy but it’s not. Our biggest challenge is staying on the top.”

Nikki Harris, Armitstead’s teammate, launched an attack in the third gravel sector that would serve to split the peloton and set the stage for the action still to come. The British cyclocross champion is racing her first road season with Boels-Dolmans and has clearly carried her form from the mud to the road (and gravel).

“No one really took it on when we got to the third gravel section,” said Armitstead. “I said to Nikki: ‘You have to attack.’ I wanted to break apart the race because we need an aggressive race for the team to perform well. Nikki attacked, and she got away solo.”

Harris’ escape sparked a reaction. With 40-kilometres left to race, Harris had 30-seconds over Lucinda Brand (Rabo-Liv) and another 23-seconds over a chase group of eight. The steep climbs, winding descents and blustery wind were taking their toll on the bunch.

“I had hoped someone would go with Nikki when I told her to attack,” Armitstead noted. “Lucinda eventually caught her. Each gravel section, it was an elimination race, and only the strongest survived.”

The lead group swelled to 40 riders with 30 kilometres left to race.

“People kept coming back to the group, but the front of the race was the same,” said Armitstead. “It was always the same riders working.”

Rabo-Liv deployed a one-two punch with Anna van der Breggen and Niewiadoma. Van der Breggen was the first to attack, and Niewiadoma countered the catch in what would prove to be the decisive move of the race.

“I went with both attacks,” said Armitstead. “The move with Kasia stuck, and Emma made it across to us. She just sat on because she was saying it was for [teammate] Elisa [Longo Borghini] behind.”

“Kasia worked really hard, and I worked really hard,” Armitstead continued. “It was good in the final that Emma didn’t win. I was a little concerned about how fresh she was going to be.”

The leading trio exited the seventh and final sector of gravel with a 58-second advantage and extend that gap out to nearly two minutes on the run-in to Siena. Armitstead kept a close watch on Niewiadoma, who she considered the biggest threat.

“I knew that Kasia’s best option was to attack me on the final climb,” said Armitstead. “I knew she would go early, and I knew when she did, it was going to be hard for me to hold her wheel. I was so focused on her attack.”

Although Niewiadoma picked up the pace up the climb, it wasn’t enough to dislodge Armitstead.

“I stayed on her wheel until 100 metres before the archway,” Armitstead explained. “That’s when I attacked, and I stayed away.”

“I’m really proud,” she added. “I’m really proud of the team. We’re one of the strongest teams, and I think we showed that today, and we showed it on the best stage. The Women’s WorldTour is hopefully going to be a better stage for women’s cycling, and we showed again that we can perform on the biggest stages.”

Full Results

#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Elizabeth Armitstead (GBr) Boels Dolmans Cyclingteam3:30:13 
2Katarzyna Niewiadoma (Pol) Rabo Liv Women Cycling Team0:00:03 
3Emma Johansson (Swe) Wiggle High50:00:13 
4Elisa Longo Borghini (Ita) Wiggle High50:01:04 
5Anna Van Der Breggen (Ned) Rabo Liv Women Cycling Team0:01:07 
6Megan Guarnier (USA) Boels Dolmans Cyclingteam  
7Annemiek Van Vleuten (Ned) Orica-AIS0:01:13 
8Claudia Lichtenberg (Ger) Lotto Soudal Ladies0:01:17 
9Lauren Kitchen (Aus) Hitec Products0:01:21 
10Leah Kirchmann (Can) Team Liv-Plantur  
11Pauline Ferrand Prevot (Fra) Rabo Liv Women Cycling Team0:01:23 
12Jolanda Neff (Swi) Servetto Footon  
13Malgorzta Jasinska (Pol) Ale' Cipollini0:01:29 
14Danielle King (GBr) Wiggle High5  
15Shara Gillow (Aus) Rabo Liv Women Cycling Team0:01:32 
16Amanda Spratt (Aus) Orica-AIS0:01:36 
17Shelley Olds (USA) Cylance Pro Cycling0:01:45 
18Christine Majerus (Lux) Boels Dolmans Cyclingteam0:03:19 
19Roxane Knetemann (Ned) Rabo Liv Women Cycling Team  
20Tiffany Cromwell (Aus) Canyon SRAM Racing  
21Flavia Oliveira (Bra) Lensworld-Zannata0:03:29 
22Carmen Small (USA) Cervelo Bigla Pro Cycling Team  
23Nikki Harris (GBr) Boels Dolmans Cyclingteam  
24Marta Bastianelli (Ita) Ale' Cipollini0:03:33 
25Rossella Ratto (Ita) Cylance Pro Cycling0:03:35 
26Elizabeth Williams (Aus) Orica-AIS0:03:37 
27Lauren Komanski (USA) Team Tibco - Silicon Valley Bank  
28Lauren Stephens (USA) Team Tibco - Silicon Valley Bank  
29Edwige Pitel (Fra) S.C. Michela Fanini0:03:41 
30Tayler Wiles (USA) Orica-AIS  
31Rasa Leleivyte (Ltu) Aromitalia Vaiano  
32Sofia Beggin (Ita) Astana Women's Team0:03:44 
33Trixi Worrack (Ger) Canyon SRAM Racing0:03:45 
34Gracie Elvin (Aus) Orica-AIS0:03:51 
35Karol-Ann Canuel (Can) Boels Dolmans Cyclingteam0:04:07 
36Lotta Lepistö (Fin) Cervelo Bigla Pro Cycling Team0:04:16 
37Joelle Numainville (Can) Cervelo Bigla Pro Cycling Team0:04:38 
38Arianna Fidanza (Ita) Astana Women's Team0:05:37 
39Alena Amialiusik (Blr) Canyon SRAM Racing  
40Polona Batagelj (Slo) BTC City Ljubljana0:05:40 
41Rozanne Slik (Ned) Team Liv-Plantur0:06:17 
42Lucinda Brand (Ned) Rabo Liv Women Cycling Team  
43Alexis Ryan (USA) Canyon SRAM Racing  
44Sheyla Gutierrez Ruiz (Spa) Cylance Pro Cycling  
45Amy Pieters (Ned) Wiggle High50:08:15 
46Ingrid Drexel (Mex) Astana Women's Team0:08:30 
47Amélie Rivat (Fra) Poitou-Charentes.Futuroscope.860:13:38 
48Eugénie Duval (Fra) Poitou-Charentes.Futuroscope.860:14:00 
49Jermaine Post (Ned) Parkhotel Valkenburg Continental Team  
50Charlotte Bravard (Fra) Poitou-Charentes.Futuroscope.86  
51Rachel Neylan (Aus) Orica-AIS0:14:03 
52Miriam Bjørnsrud (Nor) Hitec Products  
53Brianna Walle (USA) Team Tibco - Silicon Valley Bank  
54Anisha Vekemans (Bel) Lotto Soudal Ladies  
55Cecilie Gotaas Johnsen (Nor) Hitec Products0:14:09 
56Julie Leth (Den) Hitec Products  
57Elena Franchi (Ita) Aromitalia Vaiano0:14:12 
58Soraya Paladin (Ita) Top Girls Fassa Bortolo0:14:14 
59Irene Bitto (Ita) Top Girls Fassa Bortolo  
DNFRomy Kasper (Ger) Boels Dolmans Cyclingteam  
DNFAne Santesteban Gonzalez (Spa) Ale' Cipollini  
DNFMarta Tagliaferro (Ita) Ale' Cipollini  
DNFAnna Trevisi (Ita) Ale' Cipollini  
DNFMonia Baccaille (Ita) Aromitalia Vaiano  
DNFAlessia Bulleri (Ita) Aromitalia Vaiano  
DNFAlessia Martini (Ita) Aromitalia Vaiano  
DNFNicole Nesti (Ita) Aromitalia Vaiano  
DNFKseniya Dobrynina (Rus) Astana Women's Team  
DNFCarolina Rodriguez Gutierrez (Mex) Astana Women's Team  
DNFSvetlana Vasilieva (Rus) Astana Women's Team  
DNFLex Albrecht (Can) Bepink  
DNFSimona Bortolotti (Ita) Bepink  
DNFTereza Medvedova (Svk) Bepink  
DNFLeonora Pipes (Gum) Bepink  
DNFIlaria Sanguineti (Ita) Bepink  
DNFMia Radotic (Cro) BTC City Ljubljana  
DNFUrsa Pintar (Slo) BTC City Ljubljana  
DNFJelena Eric (Srb) BTC City Ljubljana  
DNFLisa Brennauer (Ger) Canyon SRAM Racing  
DNFClara Koppenburg (Ger) Cervelo Bigla Pro Cycling Team  
DNFGabrielle Pilote-Fortin (Can) Cervelo Bigla Pro Cycling Team  
DNFValentina Scandolara (Ita) Cylance Pro Cycling  
DNFKristabel Doebel-Hickok (USA) Cylance Pro Cycling  
DNFRachele Barbiere (Ita) Cylance Pro Cycling  
DNFJanicke Gunvaldsen (Nor) Hitec Products  
DNFThea Thorsen (Nor) Hitec Products  
DNFBethany Ann Allen (USA) INPA - Bianchi  
DNFMichela Pavin (Ita) INPA - Bianchi  
DNFSara Olsson (Swe) INPA - Bianchi  
DNFLara Vieceli (Ita) INPA - Bianchi  
DNFOxana Kozonchuk (Rus) Lensworld-Zannata  
DNFMaaike Polspoel (Bel) Lensworld-Zannata  
DNFKaat Van Der Meulen (Bel) Lensworld-Zannata  
DNFLieselot Decroix (Bel) Lotto Soudal Ladies  
DNFSofie De Vuyst (Bel) Lotto Soudal Ladies  
DNFSusanna Zorzi (Ita) Lotto Soudal Ladies  
DNFPauliena Rooijakkers (Ned) Parkhotel Valkenburg Continental Team  
DNFAnabelle Dreville (Fra) Poitou-Charentes.Futuroscope.86  
DNFSéverine Eraud (Fra) Poitou-Charentes.Futuroscope.86  
DNFGreta Richioud (Fra) Poitou-Charentes.Futuroscope.86  
DNFMichela Balducci (Ita) S.C. Michela Fanini  
DNFMonika Kiraly (Hun) S.C. Michela Fanini  
DNFLaura Camila Lozano Ramirez (Col) S.C. Michela Fanini  
DNFNina Gulino (Ita) S.C. Michela Fanini  
DNFSari Saarelainen (Fin) S.C. Michela Fanini  
DNFNicole Brändli (Swi) Servetto Footon  
DNFLija Laizane (Lat) Servetto Footon  
DNFAnna Potokina (Rus) Servetto Footon  
DNFJessie Walker (GBr) Servetto Footon  
DNFRiejanne Markus (Ned) Team Liv-Plantur  
DNFSara Mustonen (Swe) Team Liv-Plantur  
DNFCarlee Taylor (Aus) Team Liv-Plantur  
DNFLauren Hall (USA) Team Tibco - Silicon Valley Bank  
DNFKendall Ryan (USA) Team Tibco - Silicon Valley Bank  
DNFNicole Dal Santo (Ita) Top Girls Fassa Bortolo  
DNFNadia Quagliotto (Ita) Top Girls Fassa Bortolo  
DNFElena Leonardi (Ita) Top Girls Fassa Bortolo  
DNFAsja Paladin (Ita) Top Girls Fassa Bortolo  
DNFMayuko Hagiwara (Jpn) Wiggle High5  
DSQEmilia Fahlin (Swe) Ale' Cipollini  
DSQKseniya Tuhai (Blr) Bepink  
DSQEugenia Bujak (Pol) BTC City Ljubljana  
DSQAnna Plichta (Pol) BTC City Ljubljana  
DSQAshleigh Moolman-Pasio (RSA) Cervelo Bigla Pro Cycling Team  
DSQAnna Zita Maria Stricker (Ita) INPA - Bianchi  
DSQAna Maria Covrig (Rom) INPA - Bianchi  
DSQJessie Daams (Bel) Lotto Soudal Ladies  
DSQEva Buurman (Ned) Parkhotel Valkenburg Continental Team  
DSQIlona Hoeksma (Ned) Parkhotel Valkenburg Continental Team  
DSQJip Van Den Bos (Ned) Parkhotel Valkenburg Continental Team  
DSQKatia Ragusa (Ita) Servetto Footon  
DSQMolly Weaver (GBr) Team Liv-Plantur  
DSQEmily Collins (NZl) Team Tibco - Silicon Valley Bank  
DSQGiorgia Bronzini (Ita) Wiggle High5  

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