Marianne Vos disqualified from Postnord Vårgårda WestSweden - Cordon-Ragot new winner

Marianne Vos (Jumbo-Visma) was first across the line at the Vårgårda WestSweden Road Race but was disqualified after the race for briefly using the banned ‘puppy paws’ aerodynamic position during the decisive attack with 13km to go. 

UCI officials made their decision as the riders waited for the podium ceremony, 30 minutes after the finish of the race. 

Audrey Cordon-Ragot of Trek-Segafredo, who had finished second in the sprint behind Vos was declared the winner. Vos collected her Jumbo-Visma bags and left the race.

Cordon-Ragot had attacked on the penultimate lap with 13 km to go and was joined by Vos, Pfeiffer Georgi (Team DSM) and Valerie Demey (Liv Racing Xstra).

Cordon-Ragot and Vos did the majority of work pulling the group, with Demey taking an occasional turn and Georgi sitting on as her team had sprinter Lorena Wiebes in the group behind.

The quartet had a 15-second advantage with one 11-kilometre lap to go. They increased this further on the first half of the final lap, leading the peloton to stop chasing in earnest 1.6km from the finish.

Georgi attacked at the flamme rouge but was quickly closed down by Vos who stayed on the Briton's wheel. As Demey wasn't able to follow the acceleration, Georgi led Vos and Cordon-Ragot onto the finishing straight.

The French champion launched her sprint first but Vos had no trouble coming past her. Cordon-Ragot finished ahead of Georgi and Demey was six seconds behind. 

Lorena Wiebes (Team DSM) won the sprint of the peloton 10 seconds behind.

Over half an hour after the race had finished, a UCI commissaire approached Vos as she was waiting for the podium ceremony and explained the situation.

As the winning attack went clear, Vos had rested her forearms on her handlebars in the banned ‘puppy paws’ position for about three seconds, sparking her disqualification. That decision made Cordon-Ragot the winner.

“I just saw an attack going, and you want to be in control, go with the breaks, and stay in front. I went with the break, and we immediately had a small gap,” Vos explained the decisive attack in the post-race interview before she was disqualified.

“Audrey Cordon-Ragot and I kept pushing from the start, and Valerie Demey also did some good pulls. Of course, Pfeiffer Georgi wasn’t really taking turns, but that’s bike racing.” 

“I felt straight away that I had good legs,” Cordon-Ragot said when she still thought she was runner-up. 

“The team did an amazing job, trying to attack every lap to make the race hard, and then I could go in the break with Marianne and two others. I collaborated with Marianne and then tried to do a good sprint, closing her a little bit with the barriers and waiting for a short sprint,” she said.

“I am the kind of rider who is just going to ride, whoever I am with in the break, because this is cycling. I’m not going to stay in the wheels and wait for a sprint because Marianne is in the break, so I just do my job as I should do it.”

How it unfolded

The 125.7-kilometre race consisted of a long loop with three gravel sectors followed by eight laps on an 11-kilometre circuit with the small Hägrungabacken hill about 6 km from the finish line. 

Stine Borgli (FDJ SUEZ Futuroscope) went solo early on and stayed ahead until the second of the finishing laps, being reeled in with 68 km to go.

Borgli’s teammate Jade Wiel was the next to get away, staying in front for seven kilometres before she was caught again 49.5 km from the line. Alicia González (Movistar Team) also had a brief stint off the front at the end of the fourth local lap.

On the penultimate lap, Ellen van Dijk (Trek-Segafredo) pulled hard up Hägrungabacken to string out the peloton. Cordon-Ragot attacked on the climb, creating a front group of about 20 riders. 

After several attacks and counter-attacks that didn’t get away, Cordon-Ragot made a move again 13km from the finish line and took Vos, Demey, and Georgi with her. 

It was here that Vos made the disastrous mistake of moving into the ‘puppy paws’ position for a few seconds before remembering it had been banned and taking up a normal position again.

Going into the final lap, the four front runners were 15 seconds ahead, increasing this to 21 seconds three kilometres later. Vos and Cordon-Ragot kept going over the hill and towards the finish to make the move stay away, and Vos quickly neutralised Georgi’s attack on the final kilometre before the turn onto the finishing straight and the sprint.

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