Lizzie Armitstead wins Strade Bianche Women

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

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#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 CyclingteamRow 5 - Cell 2
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-PlanturRow 9 - Cell 2
11Pauline Ferrand Prevot (Fra) Rabo Liv Women Cycling Team0:01:23
12Jolanda Neff (Swi) Servetto FootonRow 11 - Cell 2
13Malgorzta Jasinska (Pol) Ale' Cipollini0:01:29
14Danielle King (GBr) Wiggle High5Row 13 - Cell 2
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 TeamRow 18 - Cell 2
20Tiffany Cromwell (Aus) Canyon SRAM RacingRow 19 - Cell 2
21Flavia Oliveira (Bra) Lensworld-Zannata0:03:29
22Carmen Small (USA) Cervelo Bigla Pro Cycling TeamRow 21 - Cell 2
23Nikki Harris (GBr) Boels Dolmans CyclingteamRow 22 - Cell 2
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 BankRow 26 - Cell 2
28Lauren Stephens (USA) Team Tibco - Silicon Valley BankRow 27 - Cell 2
29Edwige Pitel (Fra) S.C. Michela Fanini0:03:41
30Tayler Wiles (USA) Orica-AISRow 29 - Cell 2
31Rasa Leleivyte (Ltu) Aromitalia VaianoRow 30 - Cell 2
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 RacingRow 38 - Cell 2
40Polona Batagelj (Slo) BTC City Ljubljana0:05:40
41Rozanne Slik (Ned) Team Liv-Plantur0:06:17
42Lucinda Brand (Ned) Rabo Liv Women Cycling TeamRow 41 - Cell 2
43Alexis Ryan (USA) Canyon SRAM RacingRow 42 - Cell 2
44Sheyla Gutierrez Ruiz (Spa) Cylance Pro CyclingRow 43 - Cell 2
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 TeamRow 48 - Cell 2
50Charlotte Bravard (Fra) Poitou-Charentes.Futuroscope.86Row 49 - Cell 2
51Rachel Neylan (Aus) Orica-AIS0:14:03
52Miriam Bjørnsrud (Nor) Hitec ProductsRow 51 - Cell 2
53Brianna Walle (USA) Team Tibco - Silicon Valley BankRow 52 - Cell 2
54Anisha Vekemans (Bel) Lotto Soudal LadiesRow 53 - Cell 2
55Cecilie Gotaas Johnsen (Nor) Hitec Products0:14:09
56Julie Leth (Den) Hitec ProductsRow 55 - Cell 2
57Elena Franchi (Ita) Aromitalia Vaiano0:14:12
58Soraya Paladin (Ita) Top Girls Fassa Bortolo0:14:14
59Irene Bitto (Ita) Top Girls Fassa BortoloRow 58 - Cell 2
DNFRomy Kasper (Ger) Boels Dolmans CyclingteamRow 59 - Cell 2
DNFAne Santesteban Gonzalez (Spa) Ale' CipolliniRow 60 - Cell 2
DNFMarta Tagliaferro (Ita) Ale' CipolliniRow 61 - Cell 2
DNFAnna Trevisi (Ita) Ale' CipolliniRow 62 - Cell 2
DNFMonia Baccaille (Ita) Aromitalia VaianoRow 63 - Cell 2
DNFAlessia Bulleri (Ita) Aromitalia VaianoRow 64 - Cell 2
DNFAlessia Martini (Ita) Aromitalia VaianoRow 65 - Cell 2
DNFNicole Nesti (Ita) Aromitalia VaianoRow 66 - Cell 2
DNFKseniya Dobrynina (Rus) Astana Women's TeamRow 67 - Cell 2
DNFCarolina Rodriguez Gutierrez (Mex) Astana Women's TeamRow 68 - Cell 2
DNFSvetlana Vasilieva (Rus) Astana Women's TeamRow 69 - Cell 2
DNFLex Albrecht (Can) BepinkRow 70 - Cell 2
DNFSimona Bortolotti (Ita) BepinkRow 71 - Cell 2
DNFTereza Medvedova (Svk) BepinkRow 72 - Cell 2
DNFLeonora Pipes (Gum) BepinkRow 73 - Cell 2
DNFIlaria Sanguineti (Ita) BepinkRow 74 - Cell 2
DNFMia Radotic (Cro) BTC City LjubljanaRow 75 - Cell 2
DNFUrsa Pintar (Slo) BTC City LjubljanaRow 76 - Cell 2
DNFJelena Eric (Srb) BTC City LjubljanaRow 77 - Cell 2
DNFLisa Brennauer (Ger) Canyon SRAM RacingRow 78 - Cell 2
DNFClara Koppenburg (Ger) Cervelo Bigla Pro Cycling TeamRow 79 - Cell 2
DNFGabrielle Pilote-Fortin (Can) Cervelo Bigla Pro Cycling TeamRow 80 - Cell 2
DNFValentina Scandolara (Ita) Cylance Pro CyclingRow 81 - Cell 2
DNFKristabel Doebel-Hickok (USA) Cylance Pro CyclingRow 82 - Cell 2
DNFRachele Barbiere (Ita) Cylance Pro CyclingRow 83 - Cell 2
DNFJanicke Gunvaldsen (Nor) Hitec ProductsRow 84 - Cell 2
DNFThea Thorsen (Nor) Hitec ProductsRow 85 - Cell 2
DNFBethany Ann Allen (USA) INPA - BianchiRow 86 - Cell 2
DNFMichela Pavin (Ita) INPA - BianchiRow 87 - Cell 2
DNFSara Olsson (Swe) INPA - BianchiRow 88 - Cell 2
DNFLara Vieceli (Ita) INPA - BianchiRow 89 - Cell 2
DNFOxana Kozonchuk (Rus) Lensworld-ZannataRow 90 - Cell 2
DNFMaaike Polspoel (Bel) Lensworld-ZannataRow 91 - Cell 2
DNFKaat Van Der Meulen (Bel) Lensworld-ZannataRow 92 - Cell 2
DNFLieselot Decroix (Bel) Lotto Soudal LadiesRow 93 - Cell 2
DNFSofie De Vuyst (Bel) Lotto Soudal LadiesRow 94 - Cell 2
DNFSusanna Zorzi (Ita) Lotto Soudal LadiesRow 95 - Cell 2
DNFPauliena Rooijakkers (Ned) Parkhotel Valkenburg Continental TeamRow 96 - Cell 2
DNFAnabelle Dreville (Fra) Poitou-Charentes.Futuroscope.86Row 97 - Cell 2
DNFSéverine Eraud (Fra) Poitou-Charentes.Futuroscope.86Row 98 - Cell 2
DNFGreta Richioud (Fra) Poitou-Charentes.Futuroscope.86Row 99 - Cell 2
DNFMichela Balducci (Ita) S.C. Michela FaniniRow 100 - Cell 2
DNFMonika Kiraly (Hun) S.C. Michela FaniniRow 101 - Cell 2
DNFLaura Camila Lozano Ramirez (Col) S.C. Michela FaniniRow 102 - Cell 2
DNFNina Gulino (Ita) S.C. Michela FaniniRow 103 - Cell 2
DNFSari Saarelainen (Fin) S.C. Michela FaniniRow 104 - Cell 2
DNFNicole Brändli (Swi) Servetto FootonRow 105 - Cell 2
DNFLija Laizane (Lat) Servetto FootonRow 106 - Cell 2
DNFAnna Potokina (Rus) Servetto FootonRow 107 - Cell 2
DNFJessie Walker (GBr) Servetto FootonRow 108 - Cell 2
DNFRiejanne Markus (Ned) Team Liv-PlanturRow 109 - Cell 2
DNFSara Mustonen (Swe) Team Liv-PlanturRow 110 - Cell 2
DNFCarlee Taylor (Aus) Team Liv-PlanturRow 111 - Cell 2
DNFLauren Hall (USA) Team Tibco - Silicon Valley BankRow 112 - Cell 2
DNFKendall Ryan (USA) Team Tibco - Silicon Valley BankRow 113 - Cell 2
DNFNicole Dal Santo (Ita) Top Girls Fassa BortoloRow 114 - Cell 2
DNFNadia Quagliotto (Ita) Top Girls Fassa BortoloRow 115 - Cell 2
DNFElena Leonardi (Ita) Top Girls Fassa BortoloRow 116 - Cell 2
DNFAsja Paladin (Ita) Top Girls Fassa BortoloRow 117 - Cell 2
DNFMayuko Hagiwara (Jpn) Wiggle High5Row 118 - Cell 2
DSQEmilia Fahlin (Swe) Ale' CipolliniRow 119 - Cell 2
DSQKseniya Tuhai (Blr) BepinkRow 120 - Cell 2
DSQEugenia Bujak (Pol) BTC City LjubljanaRow 121 - Cell 2
DSQAnna Plichta (Pol) BTC City LjubljanaRow 122 - Cell 2
DSQAshleigh Moolman-Pasio (RSA) Cervelo Bigla Pro Cycling TeamRow 123 - Cell 2
DSQAnna Zita Maria Stricker (Ita) INPA - BianchiRow 124 - Cell 2
DSQAna Maria Covrig (Rom) INPA - BianchiRow 125 - Cell 2
DSQJessie Daams (Bel) Lotto Soudal LadiesRow 126 - Cell 2
DSQEva Buurman (Ned) Parkhotel Valkenburg Continental TeamRow 127 - Cell 2
DSQIlona Hoeksma (Ned) Parkhotel Valkenburg Continental TeamRow 128 - Cell 2
DSQJip Van Den Bos (Ned) Parkhotel Valkenburg Continental TeamRow 129 - Cell 2
DSQKatia Ragusa (Ita) Servetto FootonRow 130 - Cell 2
DSQMolly Weaver (GBr) Team Liv-PlanturRow 131 - Cell 2
DSQEmily Collins (NZl) Team Tibco - Silicon Valley BankRow 132 - Cell 2
DSQGiorgia Bronzini (Ita) Wiggle High5Row 133 - Cell 2

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