Chantal Blaak (Netherlands) soloed to victory in the elite women's road race at the World Championships in Bergen after her Dutch team made its numerical advantage count in the winning move. Katrin Garfoot (Australia) got away to take to second place ahead of 2016 champion Amalie Dideriksen (Denmark), who sprinted from the peloton as it was catching the chasers, 28 seconds down on the winner.
Blaak overcame a crash early in the race to fight her way back up to the peloton, and she proceeded to ignite the finale when she attacked with 23km to go. The Dutchwoman was joined in that initial move by Audrey Cordon (France) and Hannah Barnes (Great Britain), and they took the bell for the final lap with a lead of 30 seconds over the bunch.
Powerful reinforcements arrived on the final haul up Salmon Hill, when Blaak's Dutch teammates Anna van der Breggen and Annemiek van Vleuten, Kasia Niewiadoma (Poland) and Garfoot bridged across just before the summit, and it was immediately clear that this leading group of seven would decide the spoils.
Van Vleuten was the first to attack on the descent off Salmon Hill, and when she was shut down, Blaak made a dig of her own with 8 kilometres remaining. With her teammates controlling the others in the group, Blaak was able to pull away, and she had time to savour her victory as she entered the final kilometre.
Garfoot, Niewiadoma, Barnes and Cordon were unable to marshal a coherent chase, and the peloton caught that group inside the breathless final kilometre, by which point Blaak was already celebrating her victory. Garfoot had the strength to win the sprint for second ahead of Dideriksen, while Van Vleuten took 4th in front of Niewiadoma.
A Dutch victory had been predicted by many, but most were pointing towards Van der Breggen or Van Vleuten as the likely champion. With those three in the final and decisive break group, it looked as if they could pick who they wanted to take the win. The two remaining in the group after Blaak's escape controlled the happenings and prevented a serious chase, although it often seemed as if the other riders had no interest in chasing.
"I can't believe it. Really everything happened in the race. I crashed. Actually, I was in a lot of pain at that moment and I thought my race was over. Then I thought maybe I can come back and see what I can do," Blaak said. "But it was not really the plan that I should win the race, I just wanted to make it best as possible for the team. Then I came in a good break, and that was a good thing because I could come over the climb. After that, I just followed my heart and I stayed away."
On the rapid descent of Salmon Hill, there was no time for the Dutch trio to talk tactics, but each understood instinctively what was required.
"We didn't really talk to each other but we knew what to do, there were three of us out of seven, which meant that we should attack. We couldn't wait for the sprint, especially not with Hannah Barnes, and I was in the breakaway already," Blaak said. "Annemiek attacked first, and everyone was reacting. I thought OK, this is a good moment. I don't know what happened, I think they didn't follow, they waited too long.
"We had really good teamwork, everything went as planned, everyone was strong and we raced aggressively. It was a lot of pressure, because when you're in the break, you have to win. Luckily I was solo so that makes a big difference. I was already super happy that I had the national champion's jersey this year, now I have the rainbow - it's a dream come true."
How it unfolded
The sun was shining as the women took on eight laps of the 19.1km circuit course, each time tackling the Salmon Hill climb. Shortly before the first lap was finished, Sara Penton (Sweden) went clear of the peloton. She had 37 seconds on the field as she started on the second lap.
Penton finally had some company when Melissa Lowther (Great Britain) attacked out of the field before the end of the second lap. Lowther crossed the line only 0:18 behind Penton, and eventually bridged up to Penton. Lowther then attacked on the next climb of Salmon Hill, with the peloton only 23 seconds back at the top, but she was caught shortly over the summit.
At the end of the fourth lap, Norwegian Susanne Andersen slipped away from the pack, to the cheers of the home crowd. Her effort didn't last long, and Amy Pieters (Netherlands) jumped away shortly afterwards. Pieters was joined by Rachel Neylan (Australia) and Hannah Barnes (Great Britain) in a dangerous move, and the trio collaborated well to build a lead of 20 seconds over the bunch.
Their gap jumped further when a big crash near the front of the field took down a number of big names, with 66km left. Megan Guarnier (USA) seemed to be the most severely affected, but Blaak, too, was among the fallers. The Dutchwoman's injuries were not significant, however, and after a spirited pursuit, she latched back up to the bunch.
Pieters, Neylan and Barnes took a 35-second advantage with them at the end of the fifth lap, as many riders struggled to move back up to the peloton. With 50km left, their escape seemed over when Elinor Barker (Great Britain) moved up to them and the field moved to within a few seconds, but the move received renewed impetus when Lucinda Brand (Netherlands) and Gracie Elvin (Australia) bridged across on the descent of Salmon Hill.
Neyland and Barker fell back, but the quartet of Brand, Pieters, Barnes and Elvin pulled the gap back out to 18 seconds before they too were called to heel.
It was a reduced field of 69 riders going into the seventh lap. Various attacks were attempted, but the group stayed together, though a crash took down Neylan, Ashley Moolman-Paseo (South Africa), and Hayley Simmonds (Great Britain).
Dani King of Great Britain was the next to go and was then caught by Amanda Spratt (Australia), Janneke Ensing (Netherlands), and Elise Delzenne (France), with Sweden's Hanna Nilson moving up, too.
Their lead was a slender one, however, and on the penultimate lap, the strongest riders in the race began to come to the fore. On the penultimate ascent of Salmon Hill, the leading group swelled in number to include Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig (Denmark), Janneke Ensing, Anna Van Der Breggen, Annemiek Van Vleuten (Netherlands), Tatiana Guderzo (Italy), Katrin Garfoot and Amanda Spratt (Australia), Katarzyna Niewiadoma (Poland), Lizzie Deignan and Dani King (Great Britain), Hanna Nilsson (Sweden) and Elise Delzenne (France).
But again, the peloton was not ready to give up its chance and with 23 km left, reeled them back in. That was the cue for the next attacks, as Chantal Blaak attacked with Barnes and Cordon. Sarah Roy (Australia) took off in pursuit but never got closer than 11 seconds, while the peloton took the bell for the final lap with a deficit of 32 seconds.
The peloton was by now down to just 52 riders but there were still some powerful threats in it, including Marianne Vos (Netherlands), Corn Rivera (USA) and the defending champion Dideriksen. With 15 km to go, the leaders had 15 seconds on Roy and 39 on the field.
First Niewiadoma and then Blaak's teammates pushed the pace in the field on the final haul Salmon Hill, however, and the winning move took shape at the summit, as the three leaders were joined by Katrina Garfoot (Australia), Van der Breggen, Niewiadoma and Annemiek van Vleuten (Netherlands), while Roy fell back into the field.
From there, a Dutch winner seemed inevitable, and Blaak seized her opportunity with a shade under eight kilometres to go. The reaction was too long in coming, and Niewiadoma's late surge ripped the chase group apart but failed to claw back the lone leader.
Blaak soloed in for the win, glancing back numerous times as if she couldn't believe the others were not in sight. Behind her, the field had caught the rest and they sprinted furiously for the remaining podium places. Garfoot took second and Dideriksen third, but the day belonged to the Netherlands.
|#||Rider Name (Country) Team||Result|
|1||Chantal Blaak (Netherlands)||4:06:30|
|2||Katrin Garfoot (Australia)||0:00:28|
|3||Amalie Dideriksen (Denmark)|
|4||Annemiek Van Vleuten (Netherlands)|
|5||Katarzyna Niewiadoma (Poland)|
|6||Christine Majerus (Luxembourg)|
|7||Susanne Andersen (Norway)|
|8||Anna Van Der Breggen (Netherlands)|
|9||Emilia Fahlin (Sweden)|
|10||Elena Cecchini (Italy)|
|11||Pauline Ferrand Prevot (France)|
|12||Leah Kirchmann (Canada)|
|13||Lucinda Brand (Netherlands)|
|14||Hannah Barnes (Great Britain)|
|15||Ellen Van Dijk (Netherlands)|
|16||Rasa Leleivyte (Lithuania)|
|17||Sheyla Gutierrez Ruiz (Spain)|
|18||Coryn Rivera (United States of America)|
|19||Sarah Roy (Australia)|
|20||Danielle King (Great Britain)|
|21||Linda Villumsen (New Zealand)|
|22||Ursa Pintar (Slovenia)|
|23||Gracie Elvin (Australia)|
|24||Shara Gillow (Australia)|
|25||Martina Ritter (Austria)|
|26||Janneke Ensing (Netherlands)|
|27||Polona Batagelj (Slovenia)|
|28||Olga Zabelinskaya (Russian Federation)|
|29||Vita Heine (Norway)|
|30||Ann-Sophie Duyck (Belgium)|
|31||Paula Andrea Patino Bedoya (Colombia)|
|32||Margarita Victoria Garcia Canellas (Spain)|
|33||Karol-Ann Canuel (Canada)|
|34||Ingrid Drexel Clouthier (Mexico)|
|35||Eugenia Bujak (Poland)|
|36||Hanna Nilsson (Sweden)|
|37||Elise Delzenne (France)|
|38||Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig (Denmark)||0:00:36|
|39||Tatiana Guderzo (Italy)|
|40||Audrey Cordon Ragot (France)||0:00:37|
|41||Amanda Spratt (Australia)||0:00:38|
|42||Elizabeth Deignan (Great Britain)|
|43||Lisa Brennauer (Germany)||0:01:19|
|44||Ramona Forchini (Switzerland)|
|45||Amy Pieters (Netherlands)|
|46||Giorgia Bronzini (Italy)|
|47||Rossella Ratto (Italy)||0:01:34|
|48||Marianne Vos (Netherlands)||0:01:50|
|49||Hayley Simmonds (Great Britain)||0:02:31|
|50||Lisa Klein (Germany)|
|51||Eri Yonamine (Japan)|
|52||Trixi Worrack (Germany)|
|53||Diana Carolina Penuela Martinez (Colombia)||0:03:53|
|54||Rachel Neylan (Australia)||0:04:01|
|55||Romy Kasper (Germany)|
|56||Eider Merino Cortazar (Spain)||0:04:18|
|57||Anastasiia Iakovenko (Russian Federation)||0:04:43|
|58||Alison Jackson (Canada)|
|59||Chloe Hosking (Australia)|
|60||Georgia Williams (New Zealand)|
|61||Lauren Stephens (United States of America)|
|62||Nikola Noskova (Czech Republic)|
|63||Stine Borgli (Norway)||0:05:51|
|64||Camilla Mollebro Pedersen (Denmark)|
|65||Olga Shekel (Ukraine)|
|66||Pernille Mathiesen (Denmark)||0:05:57|
|67||Elinor Barker (Great Britain)||0:06:36|
|68||Lex Albrecht (Canada)||0:08:38|
|69||Sara Bergen (Canada)||0:09:37|
|70||Omer Shapira (Israel)|
|71||Ruth Winder (United States of America)|
|72||Sofia Bertizzolo (Italy)|
|73||Amber Leone Neben (United States of America)||0:13:06|
|74||Kirsti Lay (Canada)||0:14:02|
|75||Kseniia Dobrynina (Russian Federation)|
|76||Eugenie Duval (France)||0:14:52|
|77||Aude Biannic (France)|
|DNF||Charlotte Becker (Germany)|
|DNF||Katharine Hall (United States of America)|
|DNF||Claudia Lichtenberg (Germany)|
|DNF||Emilie Moberg (Norway)|
|DNF||Makhabbat Umutzhanova (Kazakhstan)|
|DNF||Tayler Wiles (United States of America)|
|DNF||Julie Leth (Denmark)|
|DNF||Alba Teruel Ribes (Spain)|
|DNF||Spela Kern (Slovenia)|
|DNF||Barbara Benko (Hungary)|
|DNF||Linda Indergand (Switzerland)|
|DNF||Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio (South Africa)|
|DNF||Juliette Labous (France)|
|DNF||Anna Plichta (Poland)|
|DNF||Ewelina Szybiak (Poland)|
|DNF||Katrine Aalerud (Norway)|
|DNF||Antri Christoforou (Cyprus)|
|DNF||Alice Barnes (Great Britain)|
|DNF||Melissa Lowther (Great Britain)|
|DNF||Jolien D'hoore (Belgium)|
|DNF||Elisa Balsamo (Italy)|
|DNF||Elisa Longo Borghini (Italy)|
|DNF||Monika Kiraly (Hungary)|
|DNF||Ana Cristina Sanabria Sanchez (Colombia)|
|DNF||Agua Marina Espinola (Paraguay)|
|DNF||Jelena Eric (Serbia)|
|DNF||Malgorzata Jasinska (Poland)|
|DNF||Nicole Hanselmann (Switzerland)|
|DNF||Marta Lach (Poland)|
|DNF||Wing Yee Leung (Hong Kong, China)|
|DNF||Anna Potokina (Russian Federation)|
|DNF||Maria Yapura Plaza (Argentina)|
|DNF||Olena Pavlukhina (Azerbaijan)|
|DNF||Varvara Fasoi (Greece)|
|DNF||Christina Perchtold (Austria)|
|DNF||Natalya Saifutdinova (Kazakhstan)|
|DNF||Elise Maes (Luxembourg)|
|DNF||Lydia Boylan (Ireland)|
|DNF||Lourdes Oyarbide Jimenez (Spain)|
|DNF||Alicia Gonzalez Blanco (Spain)|
|DNF||Yumi Kajihara (Japan)|
|DNF||Kelly Van Den Steen (Belgium)|
|DNF||Megan Guarnier (United States of America)|
|DNF||Lotta Lepisto (Finland)|
|DNF||Ingrid Moe (Norway)|
|DNF||Claire Faber (Luxembourg)|
|DNF||Sara Penton (Sweden)|
|DNF||Eyeru Tesfoam Gebru (Ethiopia)|
|DNF||Daiva Tuslaite (Lithuania)|
|DNF||Christina Malling Siggaard (Denmark)|
|DNF||Trine Schmidt (Denmark)|
|DNF||Amiliya Iskakova (Kazakhstan)|
|DNF||Estefania Pilz (Argentina)|
|DNF||Chantal Hoffmann (Luxembourg)|
|DNF||Alexandra Nessmar (Sweden)|
|DNF||Aurelie Halbwachs (Mauritius)|
|DNF||Alzbeta Pavlendova (Slovakia)|
|DNF||Brenda Santoyo Perez (Mexico)|
|DNF||Ana Maria Covrig (Romania)|
|DNF||Rotem Gafinovitz (Israel)|
|DNF||Kathrin Schweinberger (Austria)|
|DNF||Justina Jovaisyte (Lithuania)|
|DNF||Jer Ling Serene Lee (Singapore)|
|DNF||Svetlana Kuznetsova (Russian Federation)|
|DNF||Aranza Valentina Villalon Sanchez (Chile)|
|DNF||Yao Pang (Hong Kong, China)|
|DNF||Chane Jonker (South Africa)|
|DNF||Qianyu Yang (Hong Kong, China)|
|DNF||Nicolle Wendy Borges (Brazil)|
|DNF||Paola Andrea Munoz Grandon (Chile)|
|DNF||Laura Vainionpaa (Finland)|
|DNF||Jessy Druyts (Belgium)|
|DNF||Hilla Yizhaq (Israel)|
|DNF||Selam Amha Gerefiel (Ethiopia)|
|DNF||Julia Karlsson (Sweden)|
|DNS||Marlies Mejias Garcia (Cuba)|