Vos repeats as women's road race world champion

Her rivals lined up to ask questions of her in the finale of the elite women's world championships road race, but Marianne Vos (Netherlands) provided an emphatic answer with a clinical attack the last time up the climb of Via Salviati.

Vos had a lead of just five seconds over Emma Johansson (Sweden) and Rosella Ratto (Italy) when she crested the summit with 3.5 kilometres to go, but that was all she needed to claim her second successive world road race title, and her third in total.

The Dutchwoman showed strength and poise to fend off the pursuers through the streets of Florence, and had time to savour her victory as she crossed the line, while Johansson out-sprinted Ratto for second place 15 seconds later.

"Of course it's great to defend the title. They say always it's hard to win one, but to do it two in a row it's even more difficult," Vos said. "It was especially with such strong competition, the Italians were very strong today, they made it a tough race."

It was perhaps the manner of Vos' single attack, rather than her margin at the top of the final climb, that broke the resistance of the elite group that had formed at the front on the penultimate lap of the demanding Florence circuit.

When Vos took the bell for the final lap, she had just Anna van der Breggen for company in a group that included the Italian trio of Rosella Ratto, Tatiana Guderzo and Elisa Longo Borghini, Emma Johansson (Sweden), Evelyn Stevens (USA), Tiffany Cromwell (Australia), Linda Villumsen (New Zealand), Claudia Hausler (Germany) and Tatiana Antoshina (Russia).

On the long haul up to Fiesole, the penultimate climb on the circuit, Guderzo and Longo Borghini took turns to attack for Italy, while Cromwell and later Stevens put in fierce digs closer to the summit. Seemingly unmoved, Vos simply feathered the pedals in the heart of the group, while her teammate van der Breggen diligently tracked the moves at the front.

Stevens tried again on the steep wall of Via Salviati, before Johansson – who had wisely allowed the Dutch, Americans and Italians dictate affairs for much of the afternoon – finally showed her hand midway up the climb.

Johansson's move shattered the leading group, but it also had the effect of stirring Vos into action. The Dutchwoman edged her way up to Johansson's shoulder and then kicked fiercely as the gradient stiffened. Vos immediately opened a small gap, but such was the purpose behind her move that it already seemed unbridgeable.

Behind, Johansson and Ratto had battled their way clear of the remnants of the leading group, which was now strewn across the hillside. Johansson, in particular, fought to breathe life into the chase, but with Ratto unwilling to contribute to the chase, she was reliant on an error from Vos if she was to have any hope of catching her.

No such error was forthcoming, and Vos even stretched out her advantage as she entered the final kilometre. By that point Johansson was resigned to her fate and, reluctant to tow Ratto to the silver medal, she sat up, all but confirming Vos' second consecutive world title.

While Italy had the greatest strength in numbers in the selection that ultimately decided the destination of the rainbow jersey, the Dutch had the greater strength in depth. Van der Breggen performed her supporting role to perfection – raising and lowering the pace as necessary, and dutifully tracking the vital moves – and she even summoned up the strength to jump clear for fourth place on the day, while Evelyn Stevens took fifth, just ahead of Villumsen, Guderzo and Longo Borghini.

How it unfolded

Low Autumn sunshine and pleasant temperatures greeted the peloton as it rolled out of Montecatini Terme, and the racing was similarly benign on the run-in to the finishing circuit in Florence, with most riders eager to save their legs for the five demanding laps around Fiesole and Via Salviati.

Once on the circuit, the American and Italian teams were conspicuous in controlling affairs at the head of the peloton. Their tempo was gradually dropping riders from the rear of the bunch every time the road went uphill and with three laps to go the leading group had been whittled down to 30 or so riders.

"They started already at beginning of the circuit, but then we knew this was going to be a hard five laps," Vos said of the American forcing. "But it was a really good race from the Dutch team. They gave me the opportunity to keep us as quiet as possible in the bunch until the last lap."

Tiffany Cromwell (Australia) ignited the racing in earnest on the third to last lap when she hurtled after Lucinda Brand (Netherlands) on the descent of Fiesole. Although she was pegged back shortly afterwards, Cromwell was undeterred and remained an aggressive presence every time the road plunged downhill.

On the penultimate lap the climb of Fiesole forced another selection, with Stevens and van der Breggen's pressing shedding a number of riders, including Lizzie Armitstead (Great Britain) and Giorgia Bronzini (Italy), from the leading group. When Ratto followed up on Via Salviati, the leading group was whittled down to just eleven riders as they approached the final lap.

The three Italian riders deliberated on the front as they came through the finish line for the penultimate time, and they duly set about probing Vos as soon as the road climbed towards Fiesole. But as is so often the case, Vos had the final word.

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Full Results
1Marianne Vos (Netherlands)3:44:00
2Emma Johansson (Sweden)0:00:15
3Rossella Ratto (Italy)
4Anna van der Breggen (Netherlands)0:00:33
5Evelyn Stevens (United States of America)0:00:46
6Linda Melanie Villumsen (New Zealand)0:00:50
7Tatiana Guderzo (Italy)0:00:52
8Elisa Longo Borghini (Italy)
9Tiffany Cromwell (Australia)0:01:40
10Tatiana Antoshina (Russian Federation)
11Elena Kuchinskaya (Russian Federation)0:02:41
12Claudia Häusler (Germany)0:03:34
13Pauline Ferrand Prevot (France)0:04:20
14Megan Guarnier (United States of America)0:04:41
15Annemiek Van Vleuten (Netherlands)0:05:03
16Eleonora Van Dijk (Netherlands)
17Paulina Brzezna (Poland)
18Maja Wloszczowska (Poland)0:05:05
19Elizabeth Armitstead (Great Britain)0:05:28
20Trixi Worrack (Germany)
21Eugenia Bujak (Poland)
22Ashleigh Moolman (South Africa)
23Flavia Oliveira (Brazil)
24Francesca Cauz (Italy)0:05:30
25Carlee Taylor (Australia)
26Giorgia Bronzini (Italy)0:05:35
27Lucinda Brand (Netherlands)0:06:44
28Valentina Scandolara (Italy)0:07:40
29Jolanda Neff (Switzerland)
30Oxana Kozonchuk (Russian Federation)
31Shara Gillow (Australia)
32Kristin McGrath (United States of America)
33Karol-Ann Canuel (Canada)
34Edwige Pitel (France)
35Doris Schweizer (Switzerland)0:07:46
36Tetyana Riabchenko (Ukraine)0:08:51
37Mara Abbott (United States of America)0:09:40
38Miriam Bjørnsrud (Norway)0:12:09
39Liesbet De Vocht (Belgium)
40Eri Yonamine (Japan)
41Susanna Zorzi (Italy)
42Inga Cilvinaite (Lithuania)
43Anastasiya Chulkova (Russian Federation)0:13:00
44Andrea Dvorak (United States of America)
45Eivgenia Vysotska (Ukraine)
46Anna Sanchis Chafer (Spain)
DNFNoemi Cantele (Italy)
DNFHanna Solovey (Ukraine)
DNFAudrey Cordon (France)
DNFMadelene Olsson (Sweden)
DNFJoanne Kiesanowski (New Zealand)
DNFNatalia Boyarskaya (Russian Federation)
DNFLorena Maria Vargas Villamil (Colombia)
DNFMaaike Polspoel (Belgium)
DNFReta Trotman (New Zealand)
DNFEnkhjargal Tuvshinjargal (Mongolia)
DNFCecilie Gotaas Johnsen (Norway)
DNFPaz Bash (Israel)
DNFUenia Fernandes Da Souza (Brazil)
DNFAude Biannic (France)
DNFAmanda Spratt (Australia)
DNFElise Delzenne (France)
DNFOlivia Dillon (Ireland)
DNFMelanie Späth (Ireland)
DNFIngrid Lorvik (Norway)
DNFJulie Leth (Denmark)
DNFDaiva Tuslaite (Lithuania)
DNFDiana Peñuela (Colombia)
DNFAgne Silinyte (Lithuania)
DNFŠpela Kern (Slovenia)
DNFMalgorzta Jasinska (Poland)
DNFPatricia Schwager (Switzerland)
DNFLex Albrecht (Canada)
DNFRomy Kasper (Germany)
DNFLisa Brennauer (Germany)
DNFLeah Kirchmann (Canada)
DNFAne Santesteban Gonzalez (Spain)
DNFDenise Ramsden (Canada)
DNFPolona Batagelj (Slovenia)
DNFUrsa Pintar (Slovenia)
DNFCarolina Rodriguez Gutierrez (Mexico)
DNFAmy Cure (Australia)
DNFGracie Elvin (Australia)
DNFChristine Majerus (Luxembourg)
DNFAnnelies Van Doorslaer (Belgium)
DNFSofie De Vuyst (Belgium)
DNFEsther Fennel (Germany)
DNFAndrea Graus (Austria)
DNFMartina Ritter (Austria)
DNFDaniela Pintarelli (Austria)
DNFSara Mustonen (Sweden)
DNFJoelle Numainville (Canada)
DNFAmy Pieters (Netherlands)
DNFMinami Ueno (Japan)
DNFAna Fagua (Colombia)
DNFLilibeth Chacon Garcia (Venezuela)
DNFBelen Lopez Morales (Spain)
DNFVita Heine (Latvia)
DNFKatarzyna Niewiadoma (Poland)
DNFSari Saarelainen (Finland)
DNFIngrid Drexel (Mexico)
DNFJessie Daams (Belgium)
DNFKirsten Wild (Netherlands)
DNFKatie Colclough (Great Britain)
DNFNikki Harris (Great Britain)
DNFLoes Gunnewijk (Netherlands)
DNFLelizaveta Oshurkova (Ukraine)
DNFSilvija Latozaite (Lithuania)
DNFIvanna Borovychenko (Ukraine)
DNFKatarzyna Pawlowska (Poland)
DNFLauren Kitchen (Australia)
DNFMartina Ruzickova (Czech Republic)
DNFAna Teresa Casas Bonilla (Mexico)
DNFEdith Guillen (Costa Rica)
DNFDiána Szurominé Pulsfort (Hungary)
DNFNontasin Chanpeng (Thailand)
DNFJutatip Maneephan (Thailand)
DNFAntonela Ferencic (Croatia)
DNFClemilda Fernandes Silva (Brazil)
DNFSupaksorn Nuntana (Thailand)
DNFKathryn Bertine (Saint Kitts and Nevis)
DNFVéronique Fortin (Canada)
DNFKatazina Sosna (Lithuania)
DNFChristel Ferrier-Bruneau (France)
DNFEmilia Fahlin (Sweden)
DNFJessica Kihlbom (Sweden)
DNFCéline Van Severen (Belgium)
DNFSvetlana Stolbova (Russian Federation)
DNFHanna Nilsson (Sweden)
DNFMartina Thomasson (Sweden)
DNFElke Gebhardt (Germany)
DNFKaren Doljak (Paraguay)
DNFCarmen Small (United States of America)
DNFJade Wilcoxson (United States of America)
DNFLucy Garner (Great Britain)
DNFEmily Collins (New Zealand)
DNFTereza Trefná (Czech Republic)
DNFLotta Lepistö (Finland)
DNFSamah Khaled (Jordan)
DNFCindi Magali Dinatale (Argentina)
DNFDragana Kovacevic (Serbia)

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