Chantal van den Broek-Blaak (SD Worx) won the women's Strade Bianche, riding away from Elisa Longo Borghini (Trek-Segafredo) on the Via Santa Caterina climb in the final kilometre to finish off an excellent team effort.
The 2017 world champion attacked from a group of favourites with just over six kilometres to go. Longo Borghini was the only one to react, but when the Italian champion caught Van den Broek-Blaak, she was forced to do all the work herself as Van den Broek-Blaak had several SD Worx teammates in the group behind.
On the steep final climb, Van den Broek-Blaak threw the punch on the steepest part, accelerating away from a tired Longo Borghini to win. From the group behind, Anna van der Breggen (SD Worx) beat Annemiek van Vleuten (Movistar) for third place.
“I felt really good, but the win came unexpected for me, it was teamwork”, said Van den Broek-Blaak after the race. “We made a plan yesterday, and everything went really well from the beginning. Everyone was very motivated and focussed. We were there with four riders in a group of eleven, so of course we had to play our numbers. It was my job to try again.
"When Elisa came with me, I was not allowed to ride. That was smart, because I normally cannot follow her on the climb. I know she is very focussed on this race, so I was scared of her.
"Then, with one kilometre to go, I could feel that she broke, and I still had something left in the tank. This ranks as one of the biggest victories in my career," she ended, adding another big win to her world championship title and the victory in last year's Tour of Flanders where she also finished off her teams' work win.
How it unfolded
The peloton set off for the first UCI Women’s WorldTour race of the 2021 season early in the morning. In the Tuscan sunshine, they had to tackle 31.6 kilometres of gravel roads in eight sectors over the 136-kilometre route.
The first break of the day came from Elena Pirrone (Valcar-Travel & Service) who was caught on the fifth gravel sector with 63 kilometres to go. Niamh Fisher-Black (SD Worx) and Belgian champion Lotte Kopecky (Liv Racing) counterattacked and broke away; they were caught 36 kilometres from the line as the race heated up.
New attacks led to a front group of eight with Mavi Garcia (Alé BTC Ljubljana), Jelena Erić (Movistar Team), Alena Amialiusik (Canyon-SRAM), Brodie Chapman (FDJ Nouvelle-Aquitaine Futuroscope), Sabrina Stultiens (Liv Racing), Ellen van Dijk (Trek-Segafredo), Lizzy Banks (Ceratizit-WNT) and Van den Broek-Blaak.
This group split on the sixth gravel sector, Monteaperti, with 22 kilometres to go. Garcia, Stultiens, Van Dijk and Van den Broek-Blaak held a lead of 22 seconds, then Marianne Vos (Team Jumbo-Visma) and Kopecky attacked from the peloton and bridged to the front while Stultiens was dropped.
There was a regrouping on the asphalt, and a group of 15 riders came out of the penultimate gravel sector, Colle Pinzuto, together. SD Worx was represented with Van den Broek-Blaak, Van der Breggen, Demi Vollering, and Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio who were joined by Liv Racing’s Kopecky and Stultiens, Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig and Marta Cavalli (both FDJ Nouvelle-Aquitaine Futuroscope), Longo Borghini and Van Dijk from Trek-Segafredo as well as Vos, Garcia, Van Vleuten, Katarzyna Niewiadoma (Canyon-SRAM) and Amanda Spratt (Team BikeExchange).
Van den Broek-Blaak attacked from this group for the first time with 15 kilometres to go, shaking off Van Vleuten, and was joined by Longo Borghini, but this move was as shortlived as the next attack by Garcia and Kopecky.
On the final gravel sector, Le Tolfe, Van Vleuten did a seated acceleration on the steepest part of the climb, and only Vos could hold her wheel as Kopecky, who was also trying to stay in touch, suffered a puncture. The two Dutchwomen worked together but were caught by the chasing group as they entered the final ten kilometres.
After an attack by Cavalli, Moolman-Pasio, and Van Dijk was brought back by Niewiadoma, Van den Broek-Blaak then made her move six kilometres from the line, soon joined by Longo Borghini. The Italian champion led the two to the final kilometres where Van den Broek-Blaak jumped away for the victory.
Behind them, Cavalli had made a last attempt to get on the podium, but the young Italian was overhauled on the steep Via Santa Caterina by Van der Breggen and Van Vleuten who raced for the last remaining podium spot.
|Pos.||Rider Name (Country) Team||Result|
|1||Chantal van den Broek-Blaak (Ned) Team SD Worx||3:54:40|
|2||Elisa Longo Borghini (Ita) Trek-Segafredo||0:00:07|
|3||Anna van der Breggen (Ned) Team SD Worx||0:00:09|
|4||Annemiek van Vleuten (Ned) Movistar Team Women||0:00:11|
|5||Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig (Den) FDJ Nouvelle-Aquitaine Futuroscope|
|6||Demi Vollering (Ned) Team SD Worx|
|7||Marianne Vos (Ned) Jumbo-Visma Women Team||0:00:23|
|8||Marta Cavalli (Ita) FDJ Nouvelle-Aquitaine Futuroscope||0:00:27|
|9||Katarzyna Niewiadoma (Pol) Canyon-SRAM Racing||0:00:30|
|10||Ellen van Dijk (Ned) Trek-Segafredo||0:00:32|
|11||Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio (RSA) Team SD Worx|
|12||Amanda Spratt (Aus) Team BikeExchange||0:00:46|
|13||Mavi Garcia (Spa) Ale' BTC Ljubljana||0:01:52|
|14||Soraya Paladin (Ita) Liv Racing||0:02:38|
|15||Sofia Bertizzolo (Ita) Liv Racing|
|16||Kristen Faulkner (USA) Team Tibco-Silicon Valley Bank|
|17||Lotte Kopecky (Bel) Liv Racing||0:02:42|
|18||Lisa Brennauer (Ger) Ceratizit-WNT Pro Cycling Team||0:02:44|
|19||Elise Chabbey (Swi) Canyon-SRAM Racing|
|20||Evita Muzic (Fra) FDJ Nouvelle-Aquitaine Futuroscope||0:02:47|
|21||Elena Cecchini (Ita) Team SD Worx|
|22||Mikayla Harvey (NZl) Canyon-SRAM Racing|
|23||Leah Thomas (USA) Movistar Team Women||0:02:50|
|24||Audrey Cordon Ragot (Fra) Trek-Segafredo|
|25||Juliette Labous (Fra) Team DSM||0:02:52|
|26||Lauren Stephens (USA) Team Tibco-Silicon Valley Bank|
|27||Marlen Reusser (Swi) Ale' BTC Ljubljana||0:02:55|
|28||Floortje Mackaij (Ned) Team DSM||0:02:56|
|29||Pauliena Rooijakkers (Ned) Liv Racing|
|30||Erica Magnaldi (Ita) Ceratizit-WNT Pro Cycling Team|
|31||Teuntje Beekhuis (Ned) Jumbo-Visma Women Team||0:03:00|
|32||Marta Lach (Pol) Ceratizit-WNT Pro Cycling Team||0:03:01|
|33||Hanna Nilsson (Swe) Lotto Soudal Ladies|
|34||Tatiana Guderzo (Ita) Ale' BTC Ljubljana|
|35||Marta Bastianelli (Ita) Ale' BTC Ljubljana|
|36||Arlenis Sierra Canadilla (Cub) A.R. Monex Women's Pro Cycling Team|
|37||Katrine Aalerud (Nor) Movistar Team Women||0:03:04|
|38||Vittoria Guazzini (Ita) Valcar-Travel & Service||0:03:11|
|39||Jeanne Korevaar (Ned) Liv Racing||0:03:14|
|40||Katia Ragusa (Ita) A.R. Monex Women's Pro Cycling Team|
|41||Brodie Chapman (Aus) FDJ Nouvelle-Aquitaine Futuroscope||0:04:19|
|42||Julia van Bokhoven (Ned) Parkhotel Valkenburg||0:04:31|
|43||Alena Amialiusik (Blr) Canyon-SRAM Racing||0:04:47|
|44||Sabrina Stultiens (Ned) Liv Racing|
|45||Niamh Fisher-Black (NZl) Team SD Worx||0:04:56|
|46||Riejanne Markus (Ned) Jumbo-Visma Women Team||0:05:00|
|47||Eri Yonamine (Jpn) Team Tibco-Silicon Valley Bank||0:05:28|
|48||Elizabeth Banks (GBr) Ceratizit-WNT Pro Cycling Team||0:06:27|
|49||Jelena Eric (Srb) Movistar Team Women||0:06:44|
|50||Maria Giulia Confalonieri (Ita) Ceratizit-WNT Pro Cycling Team||0:06:57|
|51||Tiffany Cromwell (Aus) Canyon-SRAM Racing||0:06:59|
|52||Vita Heine (Nor) Massi Tactic Women Team||0:07:03|
|53||Hannah Barnes (GBr) Canyon-SRAM Racing||0:07:06|
|54||Spela Kern (Slo) Massi Tactic Women Team||0:07:10|
|55||Elisa Balsamo (Ita) Valcar-Travel & Service||0:07:12|
|56||Nina Buijsman (Ned) Parkhotel Valkenburg|
|57||Eider Merino Cortazar (Spa) A.R. Monex Women's Pro Cycling Team|
|58||Michaela Drummond (NZl) BePink||0:07:14|
|59||Silvia Zanardi (Ita) BePink||0:07:18|
|60||Tayler Wiles (USA) Trek-Segafredo|
|61||Liane Lippert (Ger) Team DSM||0:07:24|
|62||Rasa Leleivyte (Ltu) Aromitalia Basso Bikes Vaiano||0:07:25|
|63||Stine Borgli (Nor) FDJ Nouvelle-Aquitaine Futuroscope||0:08:13|
|64||Eugenia Bujak (Slo) Ale' BTC Ljubljana||0:08:22|
|65||Abby-Mae Parkinson (GBr) Lotto Soudal Ladies||0:08:41|
|66||Diana Carolina Peñuela Martinez (Col) Team Tibco-Silicon Valley Bank||0:09:37|
|67||Lucy Kennedy (Aus) Team BikeExchange||0:09:38|
|68||Janneke Ensing (Ned) Team BikeExchange||0:09:43|
|69||Wilma Olausson (Swe) Team DSM||0:10:01|
|70||Eva Buurman (Ned) Team Tibco-Silicon Valley Bank||0:10:03|
|71||Tanja Erath (Ger) Team Tibco-Silicon Valley Bank|
|72||Lieke Nooijen (Ned) Parkhotel Valkenburg||0:11:03|
|73||Lucinda Brand (Ned) Trek-Segafredo|
|74||Emilia Fahlin (Swe) FDJ Nouvelle-Aquitaine Futuroscope||0:11:17|
|75||Silvia Persico (Ita) Valcar-Travel & Service||0:11:26|
|76||Aude Biannic (Fra) Movistar Team Women||0:11:42|
|77||Debora Silvestri (Ita) Top Girls Fassa Bortolo||0:13:16|
|78||Georgia Williams (NZl) Team BikeExchange||0:13:19|
|79||Julie Van De Velde (Bel) Jumbo-Visma Women Team||0:14:21|
|80||Francesca Baroni (Ita) Isolmant-Premac-Vittoria||0:14:53|
|81||Francesca Balducci (Ita) Born to Win G20 Ambedo||0:14:56|
|82||Anastasia Carbonari (Ita) Born to Win G20 Ambedo|
|83||Mireia Trias Jordan (Spa) Massi Tactic Women Team||0:15:10|
|84||Olivia Baril (Can) Massi Tactic Women Team||0:16:54|
|85||Ane Santesteban Gonzalez (Spa) Team BikeExchange||0:17:01|
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