It's time for the big guns now: The Elite women are taking to the road!
Welcome back to the Worlds! The women have just started on lap six of ten. And what has happened in the previous five laps?
The peloton has been underway for just over two hours. In a group. The whole time.
The top three from last year's race are here today, of course. Giorgia Bronzini (Italy) is sporting number one, as the defending champion. Second place in Geelong went to Marianne Vos (Netherlands) and third to Emma Johansson (Sweden).
88km remaining from 140km
The women will ride 140km today, or 10 laps of the 14km course.
Chloe Hosking of Australia is hoping for a sprint finish today. She would like to take the first women's medal for her country since 2005.
We had 144 women at the start today. That includes not only the top names but also riders from Saint Kitts and Nevis, Guyana and Thailand.
Thailand has a three-women team here, by the way.
Do we actually have an attack? At any rate, a Russian has picked up the tempo at the head of things.
42km remaining from 140km
That's all it was though. The whole group is again approaching the finish line en masse.
The Dutch and the Germans are at the head of the field.
The Dutch of course are riding for Vos, who has already won darned near everything in her young career. She won the worlds road title in 2006.
Ah, the field is waking up! Namoi Cantele of Italy is the one to pick up the speed, with Judith Arndt of Germany there too.
Too soon to really call this a break, but about six riders have a small gap now.
The field isn't going to let them go that easily, though. And now another rider gives it a go.
Much looking around, who will go next, who is where -- a nervous, uncertain stage. Will a break get away or not?
Cantele tries again and sees it is pointless.
Another attempt -- a Spaniard.
Everyone gives chase, of course. At least the field is getting a bit more strung out and not all huddled together.
The field has split though. And the next attacks. Australia and .....
Doesn't matter, they don't get away either.
34km remaining from 140km
Attack after attack, with a USA rider the next. Amber Neben has two seconds over teh field.
The Netherlands give chase.
A group of six around Neben has a minimal lead.
Well, they had one...
And another one goes. Looks like Canada.
She has a good lead now, and we hope to find out who she is.
It is Clara Hughes, as we suspected.
Her lead is not that great, possibly 10 seconds.
Better than we thought: 14 seconds!
And she is pulling away, as Australia and Germany lead the chase.
Actually no one is doing much of a chase, they are letting her go.
28km remaining from 140km
They are approaching the finish line again.
Hm, she has built up a good lead now, as the peloton doesn't seem to take her too seriously. Her gap has now grown to 36 seconds, with two laps to go.
Hughes is taking advantage of the situation and moving steadily along. The field seems to have realized the danger and is moving a bit faster. The gap is at 38 seconds.
45 seconds now for the Canadian.
Charlotte Becker of Germany takes off in pursuit, and has a small gap over the field.
25km remaining from 140km
Becker is caught, but the gap to Hughes is now down to 31 seconds.
The gap is falling, now at 25 seconds.
Two more riders have taken off in pursuit. An Italian and a New Zealander.
The Dutch lead the chase to catch this duo. They aren't going to let a group of three get away, that would be too dangerous.
The gap is down to 15 seconds.
The peloton has very definitely turned up the speed now.
Looks like the field is splitting again, under the pressure of this high speed.
19km remaining from 140km
Less than 20km to go, and the field has taken the speed out and is all grouped together again.
And just like that, more attacks. Russia, Franeceand Italy.
And they too are caught, but it looks like Hughes' gap has increased.
Hughes' red curly ponytail matches the red maple leaf on her jersey.
The field picks up its speed again.
Again, an American taking off. But a German leads the way to catch her.
Hughes powers her way up to the finish line for the next-to-last time.
She is off on to the bell lap!
The field rosses the line 38 seconds back.
Will the Canadian make it to the end? Or will we have another mass sprint?
11km remaining from 140km
The weather does not seem to be playing any role today. The sun is shining, the temperature seems to be good and the wind apparently is not a factor.
The gap is getting bigger! 40 seconds now.
Five riders have a small lead over the field, including Vos and Arndt.
It looks like they are all together again in the peloton.
A Russian and an italian now have a minimal gap.
The Dutch move to the front, with Germany right behind them. Lots of orange to be seen!
8.2 km to go for Hughes.
The Dutch are clearly in the lead of the field!
The Dutch still lead things.
And the gap has come down to 26 seconds. Hughes is not giving up!
The gap is still coming down and the field can now see Hughes.
The Dutch drive the chase and continue to bring the gap down. Ina Teutenberg of Germany is lurking behind the Dutch riders.
4km to go, and 15 seconds.
An Italian takes off and the Dutch turn up the speed again.
Hughes will be caught any second.
That's it - her escape is over.
A German is the next to go, Lotte Becker.
The field gives furious chase.
She too is caught. Who is the next to go?
All pretty much together.
Arndt is the next one. Much too dangerous for the Dutch!
Again, much looking around.
A huge crash! Bronzini in it.
And another crash,just one rider in this one.
The nerves are showing....
The end is in sight!
The Dutch lead the way, and Worrack leads Teutenberg.
The sprint is open! Worrack goes, now Teutenberg
It is Bronzini again! She didnt crash!
Once again, just like last year: Bronzini ahead of Vos. With Teutenberg third.
That was a close one. If the finish line had been a meter or two further, then Vos might have won.
Tears from a Danish rider who must have been in one of the crashes.
Joy for the Italians, long faces for the Dutch women.
This is the fifth consecutive year that Vos has finished second in the Worlds road race.
Bronzini really powered her way up that final closing climb to repeat her title.
There is a big Italian celebration going on! Wouldn't the men's team love to be in this same position tomorrow?
A very wry smile from Vos as she accepts her medal.
Bronzini receives her rainbow jersey and medal, and climbs to the top step of the podium.
Our top ten:
1 Giorgia Bronzini (Italy) 3:21:28
2 Marianne Vos (Netherlands) 3:21:28
3 Ina Teutenberg (Germany) 3:21:28
4 Nicole Cooke (Great Britain) 3:21:28
5 Julia Martisova (Russian Federation) 3:21:28
6 Chloe Hosking (Australia) 3:21:28
7 Elizabeth Armitstead (Great Britain) 3:21:28
8 Ludivine Henrion (Belgium) 3:21:28
9 Rasa Leleivyte (Lithuania) 3:21:28
10 Aude Biannic (France) 3:21:28
Congratulations to Bronzini for repeating her Worlds title.
Join us again tomorrow for the Elite Men. Will we see yet another mass sprint in that race?
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