Worlds: Ferrand-Prevot secures the gold medal

Pauline Ferrand-Prevot (France) won the sprint in the Elite women’s World Championship road race, beating out Germany's Lisa Brennauer in a photo finish after a nail-biting final lap. Sweden's Emma Johansson was third.

The race was marked by a large crash in the second of seven laps, which saw a number of riders taken to hospital and the field greatly reduced. A high-powered group of four – 2013 World Champion Marianne Vos (Netherlands), Johansson, Elisa Longo Borghini (Italy) and Lizzie Armitstead (Great Britain) gained a short lead in the final kilometres but inexplicably slowed at the final kilometre mark, allowing the chasing group of sprinters to catch them.

Vos tried to start the sprint early but other riders surge past her, with Ferrand Prevot timing her sprint perfectly and confirming her huge ability in road racing as well as cyclo-cross and mountain biking.

"I was not the strongest on the climb but we came back with one kilometre to go and I sprinted. I didn't know I won at first but now I know and it is fantastic," Ferrand- Prevot said.

"I had the best team ever and they were ready for the entire race to put me in the front. I didn't crash today. I want to thank my teammates because it was a great race for us. I didn't expect to be the first today. I crashed on Sunday and I felt very bad this week. I wanted to follow the front and I had expected a top-10, so I am happy."

How it happened

Brilliant sunshine greeted the 134 riders from 39 nations as they took to the start. The women faced seven laps of the 18.2km course, with two climbs each lap. The Netherlands, the only team with nine riders, were at the front but soon gave way to the German team, who controlled the race as nobody seemed interested in attacking.

The large group finished the first lap together in 29 minutes. Lucy Garner (Great Britain) took a tumble early in the second lap, and the two-time junior world champion had to work hard to get back to the pack. The first attack came soon thereafter, from Israel's Shani Bloch, but she was caught again on the first ascent. The top teams – Germany, France, Netherlands, and Italy – held control of the race, preventing breakaways and keeping the tempo high but constant.

Things changed dramatically on the second descent of the second lap. A series of crashes turned into a mass crash, with dozens of riders sprawled all over the road and in the ditches. Several riders had to taken off in ambulance, and a number of others abandoned. The remaining riders eased in the peloton while everyone took stock of who was still riding and where they all were. Reigning world champion Marianne Vos was amongst those delayed and her team worked hard to bring her back up the significantly smaller lead group, as only 77 riders took on the third lap in the main group.

It took a long time for the race to really get going again. Many riders had changed bikes or lost their transponders, so it was unclear how many riders were still underway, or exactly where they were. However all of the top favourites were still in the lead group.

There was finally an attack on the fourth lap from Spela Kern (Slovenia). She built up a lead of up 40 seconds, but it had dropped to 16 seconds as the 68-rider strong peloton started off on the sixth lap, and she was soon caught again. With just over 45 km to go, and as the road went uphill again, the Netherlands decided it was time to wake things up, and the pace was kicked up a notch. The Italians then took over on the descent, before things calmed down again.

Time for the attacks

A compact group of 66 started into the penultimate lap, with everyone still waiting for the expected attacks and action – which started almost immediately. Alison Powers, who had earlier gone down heavily in the big crash, (USA) attacked as soon as she crossed the line. Powers, the reigning US criterium, road and time trial champion, had won her national road title in a similar attack, so the field was anxious not to let her get away. By the time the first climb loomed, Powers was riding into a headwind and the field had her in their sights. Lizzie Armitstead (Great Britain) led the chase to catch her, and immediately Evelyn Stevens (USA) jumped. The field was not going to let her go, though. To complicate matters, rain started with a 30km to go. The race moved into the rain,and the roads were covered with standing water. The British riders tried to attack time and again,with the group promptly bringing them back.

Rachel Neylan, one of the few Australians left in the race, was the next to try. She was more successful, and the peloton was strung out giving chase. Her lead was never great but it gave her teammate Tiffany Cromwell the chance to rest in the field and not work in the chase. Italy got nervous with Rosella Ratto jumping, followed closely by Armitstead and then the rest of the field. A group of 17 formed, still with most of the big names, with none other than reigning world champion Vos leading the way on the descent.

Chantal Blaak (Netherlands) led the charge to start the bell lap, with a group of four forming: Van Dijk, Katarzyna Niewiadoma (Poland), Ratto, and Neyland were soon joined by Germany's Claudia Lichtenberg-Häusler. The field chased furiously and this attack was also unsuccessful. Trixi Worrack (Germany) took a flier and the pace picked up again with 12.5km to go. Attack followed attack but nobody get away. Evelyn Stevens (USA) took off and Vos immediately gave pursuit. Yet again, they all came together, even if a front group of only 20 riders remained.

An equally-sized group caught them with 11km left. Again, it all came back together and the rain started again Worrack faded to the back of the pack, only to attack again together with former trade teammate Elin Van Dijk. Next was Neylan marked again by Vos – and still everyone stayed together. It was a nervous and tactical race. But Vos stayed at the head of things, taking a slight lead on the descent between the two climbs.

The final climb

The field split, leaving about a dozen riders up front strung out behind Vos. They slowed down and so that more riders caught up from behind. The indefatigable Worrack tried agin to attach as they headed up the final climb, followed by Stevens and Vos and ultimately the whole group. At the 5km mark, in sight of the summit, Sweden's Emma Johansson made her move. Vos was glued to her rear wheel, and Armitstead and Elisa Longo Borghini (Italy) went with her and they went over the top together. They quickly built up a gap on the descent but then didn't work together on the flat. Johansson moved again with just over three kilometres to go but Vos led the chase to catch the Swede. Longo Borghini knew she had no chance in a sprint and made her move but she was also immediately marked by Vos.

The four inexplicably slowed down again with a kilometre to go, looking back to see a group with Brennauer and Bronzini coming up. The chase group caught them as the leaders hesitated.

Vos jumped early but the Dutchwoman was unable to find the speed ot win the sprint. Her rivals did not hesitate and Ferrand Prevot sprinted on the left. Brennauer and Johansson came back as the line approached, while Bronzini faded, but Ferrand-Prevot hit the line first and was declared the world champion.

Full Results

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#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Pauline Ferrand-Prevot (France)3:29:21
2Lisa Brennauer (Germany)Row 1 - Cell 2
3Emma Johansson (Sweden)Row 2 - Cell 2
4Giorgia Bronzini (Italy)Row 3 - Cell 2
5Tiffany Cromwell (Australia)Row 4 - Cell 2
6Shelley Olds (United States Of America)Row 5 - Cell 2
7Elizabeth Armitstead (Great Britain)Row 6 - Cell 2
8Linda Melanie Villumsen (New Zealand)Row 7 - Cell 2
9Hanna Solovey (Ukraine)Row 8 - Cell 2
10Marianne Vos (Netherlands)Row 9 - Cell 2
11Katarzyna Niewiadoma (Poland)Row 10 - Cell 2
12Evelyn Stevens (United States Of America)0:00:03
13Rossella Ratto (Italy)Row 12 - Cell 2
14Elisa Longo Borghini (Italy)Row 13 - Cell 2
15Claudia Häusler (Germany)0:00:06
16Audrey Cordon (France)0:00:41
17Chantal Blaak (Netherlands)Row 16 - Cell 2
18Paulina Brzezna (Poland)Row 17 - Cell 2
19Malgorzta Jasinska (Poland)Row 18 - Cell 2
20Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio (South Africa)Row 19 - Cell 2
21Elena Kuchinskaya (Russian Federation)Row 20 - Cell 2
22Eri Yonamine (Japan)Row 21 - Cell 2
23Doris Schweizer (Switzerland)Row 22 - Cell 2
24Rachel Neylan (Australia)Row 23 - Cell 2
25Flavia Oliveira (Brazil)Row 24 - Cell 2
26Anna Sanchis Chafer (Spain)Row 25 - Cell 2
27Sofie De Vuyst (Belgium)0:00:47
28Tetiana Riabchenko (Ukraine)Row 27 - Cell 2
29Eleonora Van Dijk (Netherlands)Row 28 - Cell 2
30Ane Santesteban Gonzalez (Spain)Row 29 - Cell 2
31Christine Majerus (Luxembourg)Row 30 - Cell 2
32Trixi Worrack (Germany)Row 31 - Cell 2
33Lucinda Brand (Netherlands)Row 32 - Cell 2
34Kelly Druyts (Belgium)0:01:10
35Serika Guluma Ortiz (Colombia)Row 34 - Cell 2
36Jessenia Meneses (Colombia)0:01:24
37Tatiana Guderzo (Italy)0:02:41
38Annie Last (Great Britain)0:03:06
39Julie Leth (Denmark)Row 38 - Cell 2
40Maaike Polspoel (Belgium)Row 39 - Cell 2
41Lauren Hall (United States Of America)0:05:30
42Emilie Moberg (Norway)0:05:46
43Elise Delzenne (France)Row 42 - Cell 2
44Amélie Rivat (France)Row 43 - Cell 2
45Polona Batagelj (Slovenia)Row 44 - Cell 2
46Špela Kern (Slovenia)Row 45 - Cell 2
47Megan Guarnier (United States Of America)Row 46 - Cell 2
48Katrin Garfoot (Australia)Row 47 - Cell 2
49Sara Mustonen (Sweden)0:05:51
50Alexandra Burchenkova (Russian Federation)Row 49 - Cell 2
51Anastasiya Chulkova (Russian Federation)Row 50 - Cell 2
52Mayuko Hagiwara (Japan)Row 51 - Cell 2
53Charlotte Becker (Germany)Row 52 - Cell 2
54Sari Saarelainen (Finland)0:08:38
55Elena Cecchini (Italy)0:08:45
56Sabrina Stultiens (Netherlands)0:11:06
57Carlee Taylor (Australia)0:11:44
58Verónica Leal Balderas (Mexico)Row 57 - Cell 2
59Paz Bash (Israel)0:12:28
DNFUenia Fernandes Da Souza (Brazil)Row 59 - Cell 2
DNFAn-Li Pretorius (South Africa)Row 60 - Cell 2
DNFAnna Christian (Great Britain)Row 61 - Cell 2
DNFStephanie Pohl (Germany)Row 62 - Cell 2
DNFHannah Barnes (Great Britain)Row 63 - Cell 2
DNFSusanna Zorzi (Italy)Row 64 - Cell 2
DNFAlison Powers (United States Of America)Row 65 - Cell 2
DNFAmy Pieters (Netherlands)Row 66 - Cell 2
DNFIris Slappendel (Netherlands)Row 67 - Cell 2
DNFSara Olsson (Sweden)Row 68 - Cell 2
DNFValentina Scandolara (Italy)Row 69 - Cell 2
DNFDaiva Tuslaite (Lithuania)Row 70 - Cell 2
DNFLija Laizane (Latvia)Row 71 - Cell 2
DNFKatazina Sosna (Lithuania)Row 72 - Cell 2
DNFJacqueline Hahn (Austria)Row 73 - Cell 2
DNFEwelina Szybiak (Poland)Row 74 - Cell 2
DNFDesiree Ehrler (Switzerland)Row 75 - Cell 2
DNFTatiana Antoshina (Russian Federation)Row 76 - Cell 2
DNFEmilia Fahlin (Sweden)Row 77 - Cell 2
DNFTayler Wiles (United States Of America)Row 78 - Cell 2
DNFLotta Lepistö (Finland)Row 79 - Cell 2
DNFJoanne Kiesanowski (New Zealand)Row 80 - Cell 2
DNFEline Gleditsch Brustad (Norway)Row 81 - Cell 2
DNFAude Biannic (France)Row 82 - Cell 2
DNFRomy Kasper (Germany)Row 83 - Cell 2
DNFLoren Rowney (Australia)Row 84 - Cell 2
DNFKseniya Tuhai (Belarus)Row 85 - Cell 2
DNFEmilie Aubry (Switzerland)Row 86 - Cell 2
DNFLex Albrecht (Canada)Row 87 - Cell 2
DNFNicole Hanselmann (Switzerland)Row 88 - Cell 2
DNFMartina Ritter (Austria)Row 89 - Cell 2
DNFLinda Indergand (Switzerland)Row 90 - Cell 2
DNFLinnea Sjöblom (Sweden)Row 91 - Cell 2
DNFReta Trotman (New Zealand)Row 92 - Cell 2
DNFDana Rožlapa (Latvia)Row 93 - Cell 2
DNFKathryn Bertine SKNRow 94 - Cell 2
DNFLiisa Ehrberg (Est