On Sunday's stage 3 at the Giro d'Italia Internazionale Femminile, Lucy Kennedy (Mitchelton-Scott) was closer to a Women's WorldTour victory than she had ever been before. Having attacked with 2.5km to go in the mountain village of Piedicavallo at 1,049m, Kennedy entered the final kilometre with an advantage of 18 seconds - but she was caught one metre from the finish line by a charging Marianne Vos (CCC-Liv).
"I thought I had it, my first WorldTour win," Kennedy said. "But as I raised my fist in the air, Vos came past me. Right on the line. I was absolutely spent."
Just moments earlier, Vos had led the peloton up the steep, narrow and cobbled sections of the final climb, but even with 150m to go, it looked as if Kennedy had the stage win in the bag. After a glance back, the Australian climber evidently thought so herself, too, raising one arm with about ten metres to go to celebrate what looked like the biggest success of her career so far.
However, this caused Kennedy to lose enough speed and momentum for Vos to duck around her left side and pass her on the final metre of the 104.1-kilometre stage. It stunned Kennedy and left her open-mouthed and looking surprised on the winner’s photo, as she realised her mistake. Behind the finish line, Kennedy collapsed on the ground, having given her all in her late move on the uphill finish.
Having gotten her breath back, Kennedy was understandably disappointed to miss out on victory so narrowly, but she could also see the positives in her performance.
"The feeling when I saw Marianne there out of the corner of my eye as I thought I'd got the win was pretty heartbreaking," Kennedy said. "But when the dust settles, I can be happy with my ride. I haven't had a WorldTour podium before."
Kennedy had made a similar move on stage 2, going up the road with Lotto Soudal's Julie Van de Velde, but being caught with one kilometre to go. This did nothing to discourage her from trying it again.
"It shows that my legs are pretty good. I had a good late attack yesterday, but maybe I didn't fully commit to it, or maybe I didn't believe I could stay away. It was cool to get another chance," she said.
"It was quite a hectic race with winding, narrow roads and I struggled with my positioning a bit. Coming up that final drag, we followed the plan exactly, Spratt or myself attacking with around three kilometres to go when it got steeper.
"Me going on these late attacks helps Annemiek [Van Vleuten] as well, stringing out the peloton and setting it up for a hard final. It was a good day, but not a great day," Kennedy finished with a laugh.