Lippert fights to keep WorldTour lead after Strade Bianche mechanical

SIENA ITALY AUGUST 01 Elizabeth ArmisteadDeignan of The United Kingdom and Team TrekSegafredo Women Franziska Koch of Germany and Team Sunweb Women Juliette Labous of France and Team Sunweb Women Christine Majerus of Luxembourg and Boels Dolmans Cyclingteam Liane Lippert of Germany and Team Sunweb Women Marta Bastianelli of Italy and Team Ale BTC Ljubljana Soraya Paladin of Italy and Team CCCLiv Dust during the Eroica 6th Strade Bianche 2020 Women Elite a 136km race from Siena to Siena Piazza del Campo StradeBianche on August 01 2020 in Siena Italy Photo by Luc ClaessenGetty Images
Liane Lippert (Sunweb) wears the Women's WorldTour's purple leader's jersey at Strade Bianche (Image credit: Getty Images)

Liane Lippert has retained her overall lead of the Women’s WorldTour after fighting back from an untimely mechanical to finish 16th at Strade Bianche on Saturday. 

The Sunweb rider earned the series lead when she won Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race in February before the season was shut down due to COVID-19 coronavirus, and she aims to keep it for as long as possible throughout the revised calendar.

"I knew that I wanted to give my best and get the best result I could, never giving up, fighting until the line," said Lippert, who suffered an unfortunate mechanical just when the decisive attacks started.

"I wanted to come for more and with my legs I think I could have done better if we had better luck, but in general I think I can be proud of my shape and the way we fought as a team, we never gave in today."

Lippert now leads the series with a total of 424 points, just 24 points ahead of Strade Bianche winner and current road race world champion Annemiek van Vleuten, and 104 points ahead of Mavi Garcia (Alé BTC Ljubljana).

Lippert went into Strade Bianche with a strong support team that included Coryn Rivera, Leah Kirchmann, Franziska Koch, Juliette Labous and Floortje Mackaij. She had an untimely mechanical, however, just as the race began to take shape with a series of strong attacks with 50km to the go. 

A group of 11 riders cleared the field and quickly built up a one-minute advantage, before a counter-attack saw Garcia embark on a solo breakaway. Lippert relied on Rivera and Kirchmann to bring her back to the remnants of the peloton, and alongside Koch, who managed to keep the gap to the second group on the road within reach.

The final 20km saw each group on the road shatter to either small groups or single riders along the route. Lippert set her own pace and finished in 16th place, 6:27 behind the day's winner Van Vleuten, while maintaining her lead in the WorldTour standings.

“We had some bad luck today which cost us a lot of energy," said the team's director Hans Timmermans. "It took at least one and a half gravel sectors to bring Liane back to the peloton, which in the end made the difference. Franziska rode incredibly well today too as she was dropped on the longest gravel sector but fought back on her own.

“She then drove the pace at the front of the peloton to keep the gap to the group ahead small, so that Liane could attack and catch some riders from that group. Liane can also be proud of how she rode today too, fighting back and never giving up."

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