Chantal Blaak (Netherlands) soloed to victory in the elite women's road race at the World Championships in Bergen after her Dutch team made its numerical advantage count in the winning move. Katrin Garfoot (Australia) got away to take to second place ahead of 2016 champion Amalie Dideriksen (Denmark), who sprinted from the peloton as it was catching the chasers, 28 seconds down on the winner.
Blaak overcame a crash early in the race to fight her way back up to the peloton, and she proceeded to ignite the finale when she attacked with 23km to go. The Dutchwoman was joined in that initial move by Audrey Cordon (France) and Hannah Barnes (Great Britain), and they took the bell for the final lap with a lead of 30 seconds over the bunch.
Powerful reinforcements arrived on the final haul up Salmon Hill, when Blaak's Dutch teammates Anna van der Breggen and Annemiek van Vleuten, Kasia Niewiadoma (Poland) and Garfoot bridged across just before the summit, and it was immediately clear that this leading group of seven would decide the spoils.
Van Vleuten was the first to attack on the descent off Salmon Hill, and when she was shut down, Blaak made a dig of her own with 8 kilometres remaining. With her teammates controlling the others in the group, Blaak was able to pull away, and she had time to savour her victory as she entered the final kilometre.
Garfoot, Niewiadoma, Barnes and Cordon were unable to marshal a coherent chase, and the peloton caught that group inside the breathless final kilometre, by which point Blaak was already celebrating her victory. Garfoot had the strength to win the sprint for second ahead of Dideriksen, while Van Vleuten took 4th in front of Niewiadoma.
A Dutch victory had been predicted by many, but most were pointing towards Van der Breggen or Van Vleuten as the likely champion. With those three in the final and decisive break group, it looked as if they could pick who they wanted to take the win. The two remaining in the group after Blaak's escape controlled the happenings and prevented a serious chase, although it often seemed as if the other riders had no interest in chasing.
"I can't believe it. Really everything happened in the race. I crashed. Actually, I was in a lot of pain at that moment and I thought my race was over. Then I thought maybe I can come back and see what I can do," Blaak said. "But it was not really the plan that I should win the race, I just wanted to make it best as possible for the team. Then I came in a good break, and that was a good thing because I could come over the climb. After that, I just followed my heart and I stayed away."
On the rapid descent of Salmon Hill, there was no time for the Dutch trio to talk tactics, but each understood instinctively what was required.
"We didn't really talk to each other but we knew what to do, there were three of us out of seven, which meant that we should attack. We couldn't wait for the sprint, especially not with Hannah Barnes, and I was in the breakaway already," Blaak said. "Annemiek attacked first, and everyone was reacting. I thought OK, this is a good moment. I don't know what happened, I think they didn't follow, they waited too long.
"We had really good teamwork, everything went as planned, everyone was strong and we raced aggressively. It was a lot of pressure, because when you're in the break, you have to win. Luckily I was solo so that makes a big difference. I was already super happy that I had the national champion's jersey this year, now I have the rainbow - it's a dream come true."
How it unfolded
The sun was shining as the women took on eight laps of the 19.1km circuit course, each time tackling the Salmon Hill climb. Shortly before the first lap was finished, Sara Penton (Sweden) went clear of the peloton. She had 37 seconds on the field as she started on the second lap.
Penton finally had some company when Melissa Lowther (Great Britain) attacked out of the field before the end of the second lap. Lowther crossed the line only 0:18 behind Penton, and eventually bridged up to Penton. Lowther then attacked on the next climb of Salmon Hill, with the peloton only 23 seconds back at the top, but she was caught shortly over the summit.
At the end of the fourth lap, Norwegian Susanne Andersen slipped away from the pack, to the cheers of the home crowd. Her effort didn't last long, and Amy Pieters (Netherlands) jumped away shortly afterwards. Pieters was joined by Rachel Neylan (Australia) and Hannah Barnes (Great Britain) in a dangerous move, and the trio collaborated well to build a lead of 20 seconds over the bunch.
Their gap jumped further when a big crash near the front of the field took down a number of big names, with 66km left. Megan Guarnier (USA) seemed to be the most severely affected, but Blaak, too, was among the fallers. The Dutchwoman's injuries were not significant, however, and after a spirited pursuit, she latched back up to the bunch.
Pieters, Neylan and Barnes took a 35-second advantage with them at the end of the fifth lap, as many riders struggled to move back up to the peloton. With 50km left, their escape seemed over when Elinor Barker (Great Britain) moved up to them and the field moved to within a few seconds, but the move received renewed impetus when Lucinda Brand (Netherlands) and Gracie Elvin (Australia) bridged across on the descent of Salmon Hill.
Neyland and Barker fell back, but the quartet of Brand, Pieters, Barnes and Elvin pulled the gap back out to 18 seconds before they too were called to heel.
It was a reduced field of 69 riders going into the seventh lap. Various attacks were attempted, but the group stayed together, though a crash took down Neylan, Ashley Moolman-Paseo (South Africa), and Hayley Simmonds (Great Britain).
Dani King of Great Britain was the next to go and was then caught by Amanda Spratt (Australia), Janneke Ensing (Netherlands), and Elise Delzenne (France), with Sweden's Hanna Nilson moving up, too.
Their lead was a slender one, however, and on the penultimate lap, the strongest riders in the race began to come to the fore. On the penultimate ascent of Salmon Hill, the leading group swelled in number to include Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig (Denmark), Janneke Ensing, Anna Van Der Breggen, Annemiek Van Vleuten (Netherlands), Tatiana Guderzo (Italy), Katrin Garfoot and Amanda Spratt (Australia), Katarzyna Niewiadoma (Poland), Lizzie Deignan and Dani King (Great Britain), Hanna Nilsson (Sweden) and Elise Delzenne (France).
But again, the peloton was not ready to give up its chance and with 23 km left, reeled them back in. That was the cue for the next attacks, as Chantal Blaak attacked with Barnes and Cordon. Sarah Roy (Australia) took off in pursuit but never got closer than 11 seconds, while the peloton took the bell for the final lap with a deficit of 32 seconds.
The peloton was by now down to just 52 riders but there were still some powerful threats in it, including Marianne Vos (Netherlands), Corn Rivera (USA) and the defending champion Dideriksen. With 15 km to go, the leaders had 15 seconds on Roy and 39 on the field.
First Niewiadoma and then Blaak's teammates pushed the pace in the field on the final haul Salmon Hill, however, and the winning move took shape at the summit, as the three leaders were joined by Katrina Garfoot (Australia), Van der Breggen, Niewiadoma and Annemiek van Vleuten (Netherlands), while Roy fell back into the field.
From there, a Dutch winner seemed inevitable, and Blaak seized her opportunity with a shade under eight kilometres to go. The reaction was too long in coming, and Niewiadoma's late surge ripped the chase group apart but failed to claw back the lone leader.
Blaak soloed in for the win, glancing back numerous times as if she couldn't believe the others were not in sight. Behind her, the field had caught the rest and they sprinted furiously for the remaining podium places. Garfoot took second and Dideriksen third, but the day belonged to the Netherlands.
|#||Rider Name (Country) Team||Result|
|1||Chantal Blaak (Netherlands)||4:06:30|
|2||Katrin Garfoot (Australia)||0:00:28|
|3||Amalie Dideriksen (Denmark)||Row 2 - Cell 2|
|4||Annemiek Van Vleuten (Netherlands)||Row 3 - Cell 2|
|5||Katarzyna Niewiadoma (Poland)||Row 4 - Cell 2|
|6||Christine Majerus (Luxembourg)||Row 5 - Cell 2|
|7||Susanne Andersen (Norway)||Row 6 - Cell 2|
|8||Anna Van Der Breggen (Netherlands)||Row 7 - Cell 2|
|9||Emilia Fahlin (Sweden)||Row 8 - Cell 2|
|10||Elena Cecchini (Italy)||Row 9 - Cell 2|
|11||Pauline Ferrand Prevot (France)||Row 10 - Cell 2|
|12||Leah Kirchmann (Canada)||Row 11 - Cell 2|
|13||Lucinda Brand (Netherlands)||Row 12 - Cell 2|
|14||Hannah Barnes (Great Britain)||Row 13 - Cell 2|
|15||Ellen Van Dijk (Netherlands)||Row 14 - Cell 2|
|16||Rasa Leleivyte (Lithuania)||Row 15 - Cell 2|
|17||Sheyla Gutierrez Ruiz (Spain)||Row 16 - Cell 2|
|18||Coryn Rivera (United States of America)||Row 17 - Cell 2|
|19||Sarah Roy (Australia)||Row 18 - Cell 2|
|20||Danielle King (Great Britain)||Row 19 - Cell 2|
|21||Linda Villumsen (New Zealand)||Row 20 - Cell 2|
|22||Ursa Pintar (Slovenia)||Row 21 - Cell 2|
|23||Gracie Elvin (Australia)||Row 22 - Cell 2|
|24||Shara Gillow (Australia)||Row 23 - Cell 2|
|25||Martina Ritter (Austria)||Row 24 - Cell 2|
|26||Janneke Ensing (Netherlands)||Row 25 - Cell 2|
|27||Polona Batagelj (Slovenia)||Row 26 - Cell 2|
|28||Olga Zabelinskaya (Russian Federation)||Row 27 - Cell 2|
|29||Vita Heine (Norway)||Row 28 - Cell 2|
|30||Ann-Sophie Duyck (Belgium)||Row 29 - Cell 2|
|31||Paula Andrea Patino Bedoya (Colombia)||Row 30 - Cell 2|
|32||Margarita Victoria Garcia Canellas (Spain)||Row 31 - Cell 2|
|33||Karol-Ann Canuel (Canada)||Row 32 - Cell 2|
|34||Ingrid Drexel Clouthier (Mexico)||Row 33 - Cell 2|
|35||Eugenia Bujak (Poland)||Row 34 - Cell 2|
|36||Hanna Nilsson (Sweden)||Row 35 - Cell 2|
|37||Elise Delzenne (France)||Row 36 - Cell 2|
|38||Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig (Denmark)||0:00:36|
|39||Tatiana Guderzo (Italy)||Row 38 - Cell 2|
|40||Audrey Cordon Ragot (France)||0:00:37|
|41||Amanda Spratt (Australia)||0:00:38|
|42||Elizabeth Deignan (Great Britain)||Row 41 - Cell 2|
|43||Lisa Brennauer (Germany)||0:01:19|
|44||Ramona Forchini (Switzerland)||Row 43 - Cell 2|
|45||Amy Pieters (Netherlands)||Row 44 - Cell 2|
|46||Giorgia Bronzini (Italy)||Row 45 - Cell 2|
|47||Rossella Ratto (Italy)||0:01:34|
|48||Marianne Vos (Netherlands)||0:01:50|
|49||Hayley Simmonds (Great Britain)||0:02:31|
|50||Lisa Klein (Germany)||Row 49 - Cell 2|
|51||Eri Yonamine (Japan)||Row 50 - Cell 2|
|52||Trixi Worrack (Germany)||Row 51 - Cell 2|
|53||Diana Carolina Penuela Martinez (Colombia)||0:03:53|
|54||Rachel Neylan (Australia)||0:04:01|
|55||Romy Kasper (Germany)||Row 54 - Cell 2|
|56||Eider Merino Cortazar (Spain)||0:04:18|
|57||Anastasiia Iakovenko (Russian Federation)||0:04:43|
|58||Alison Jackson (Canada)||Row 57 - Cell 2|
|59||Chloe Hosking (Australia)||Row 58 - Cell 2|
|60||Georgia Williams (New Zealand)||Row 59 - Cell 2|
|61||Lauren Stephens (United States of America)||Row 60 - Cell 2|
|62||Nikola Noskova (Czech Republic)||Row 61 - Cell 2|
|63||Stine Borgli (Norway)||0:05:51|
|64||Camilla Mollebro Pedersen (Denmark)||Row 63 - Cell 2|
|65||Olga Shekel (Ukraine)||Row 64 - Cell 2|
|66||Pernille Mathiesen (Denmark)||0:05:57|
|67||Elinor Barker (Great Britain)||0:06:36|
|68||Lex Albrecht (Canada)||0:08:38|
|69||Sara Bergen (Canada)||0:09:37|
|70||Omer Shapira (Israel)||Row 69 - Cell 2|
|71||Ruth Winder (United States of America)||Row 70 - Cell 2|
|72||Sofia Bertizzolo (Italy)||Row 71 - Cell 2|
|73||Amber Leone Neben (United States of America)||0:13:06|
|74||Kirsti Lay (Canada)||0:14:02|
|75||Kseniia Dobrynina (Russian Federation)||Row 74 - Cell 2|
|76||Eugenie Duval (France)||0:14:52|
|77||Aude Biannic (France)||Row 76 - Cell 2|
|DNF||Charlotte Becker (Germany)||Row 77 - Cell 2|
|DNF||Katharine Hall (United States of America)||Row 78 - Cell 2|
|DNF||Claudia Lichtenberg (Germany)||Row 79 - Cell 2|
|DNF||Emilie Moberg (Norway)||Row 80 - Cell 2|
|DNF||Makhabbat Umutzhanova (Kazakhstan)||Row 81 - Cell 2|
|DNF||Tayler Wiles (United States of America)||Row 82 - Cell 2|
|DNF||Julie Leth (Denmark)||Row 83 - Cell 2|
|DNF||Alba Teruel Ribes (Spain)||Row 84 - Cell 2|
|DNF||Spela Kern (Slovenia)||Row 85 - Cell 2|
|DNF||Barbara Benko (Hungary)||Row 86 - Cell 2|
|DNF||Linda Indergand (Switzerland)||Row 87 - Cell 2|
|DNF||Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio (South Africa)||Row 88 - Cell 2|
|DNF||Juliette Labous (France)||Row 89 - Cell 2|
|DNF||Anna Plichta (Poland)||Row 90 - Cell 2|
|DNF||Ewelina Szybiak (Poland)||Row 91 - Cell 2|
|DNF||Katrine Aalerud (Norway)||Row 92 - Cell 2|
|DNF||Antri Christoforou (Cyprus)||Row 93 - Cell 2|
|DNF||Alice Barnes (Great Britain)||Row 94 - Cell 2|
|DNF||Melissa Lowther (Great Britain)||Row 95 - Cell 2|
|DNF||Jolien D'hoore (Belgium)||Row 96 - Cell 2|
|DNF||Elisa Balsamo (Italy)||Row 97 - Cell 2|
|DNF||Elisa Longo Borghini (Italy)||Row 98 - Cell 2|
|DNF||Monika Kiraly (Hungary)||Row 99 - Cell 2|
|DNF||Ana Cristina Sanabria Sanchez (Colombia)||Row 100 - Cell 2|
|DNF||Agua Marina Espinola (Paraguay)||Row 101 - Cell 2|
|DNF||Jelena Eric (Serbia)||Row 102 - Cell 2|
|DNF||Malgorzata Jasinska (Poland)||Row 103 - Cell 2|
|DNF||Nicole Hanselmann (Switzerland)||Row 104 - Cell 2|
|DNF||Marta Lach (Poland)||Row 105 - Cell 2|
|DNF||Wing Yee Leung (Hong Kong, China)||Row 106 - Cell 2|
|DNF||Anna Potokina (Russian Federation)||Row 107 - Cell 2|
|DNF||Maria Yapura Plaza (Argentina)||Row 108 - Cell 2|
|DNF||Olena Pavlukhina (Azerbaijan)||Row 109 - Cell 2|
|DNF||Varvara Fasoi (Greece)||Row 110 - Cell 2|
|DNF||Christina Perchtold (Austria)||Row 111 - Cell 2|
|DNF||Natalya Saifutdinova (Kazakhstan)||Row 112 - Cell 2|
|DNF||Elise Maes (Luxembourg)||Row 113 - Cell 2|
|DNF||Lydia Boylan (Ireland)||Row 114 - Cell 2|
|DNF||Lourdes Oyarbide Jimenez (Spain)||Row 115 - Cell 2|
|DNF||Alicia Gonzalez Blanco (Spain)||Row 116 - Cell 2|
|DNF||Yumi Kajihara (Japan)||Row 117 - Cell 2|
|DNF||Kelly Van Den Steen (Belgium)||Row 118 - Cell 2|
|DNF||Megan Guarnier (United States of America)||Row 119 - Cell 2|
|DNF||Lotta Lepisto (Finland)||Row 120 - Cell 2|
|DNF||Ingrid Moe (Norway)||Row 121 - Cell 2|
|DNF||Claire Faber (Luxembourg)||Row 122 - Cell 2|
|DNF||Sara Penton (Sweden)||Row 123 - Cell 2|
|DNF||Eyeru Tesfoam Gebru (Ethiopia)||Row 124 - Cell 2|
|DNF||Daiva Tuslaite (Lithuania)||Row 125 - Cell 2|
|DNF||Christina Malling Siggaard (Denmark)||Row 126 - Cell 2|
|DNF||Trine Schmidt (Denmark)||Row 127 - Cell 2|
|DNF||Amiliya Iskakova (Kazakhstan)||Row 128 - Cell 2|
|DNF||Estefania Pilz (Argentina)||Row 129 - Cell 2|
|DNF||Chantal Hoffmann (Luxembourg)||Row 130 - Cell 2|
|DNF||Alexandra Nessmar (Sweden)||Row 131 - Cell 2|
|DNF||Aurelie Halbwachs (Mauritius)||Row 132 - Cell 2|
|DNF||Alzbeta Pavlendova (Slovakia)||Row 133 - Cell 2|
|DNF||Brenda Santoyo Perez (Mexico)||Row 134 - Cell 2|
|DNF||Ana Maria Covrig (Romania)||Row 135 - Cell 2|
|DNF||Rotem Gafinovitz (Israel)||Row 136 - Cell 2|
|DNF||Kathrin Schweinberger (Austria)||Row 137 - Cell 2|
|DNF||Justina Jovaisyte (Lithuania)||Row 138 - Cell 2|
|DNF||Jer Ling Serene Lee (Singapore)||Row 139 - Cell 2|
|DNF||Svetlana Kuznetsova (Russian Federation)||Row 140 - Cell 2|
|DNF||Aranza Valentina Villalon Sanchez (Chile)||Row 141 - Cell 2|
|DNF||Yao Pang (Hong Kong, China)||Row 142 - Cell 2|
|DNF||Chane Jonker (South Africa)||Row 143 - Cell 2|
|DNF||Qianyu Yang (Hong Kong, China)||Row 144 - Cell 2|
|DNF||Nicolle Wendy Borges (Brazil)||Row 145 - Cell 2|
|DNF||Paola Andrea Munoz Grandon (Chile)||Row 146 - Cell 2|
|DNF||Laura Vainionpaa (Finland)||Row 147 - Cell 2|
|DNF||Jessy Druyts (Belgium)||Row 148 - Cell 2|
|DNF||Hilla Yizhaq (Israel)||Row 149 - Cell 2|
|DNF||Selam Amha Gerefiel (Ethiopia)||Row 150 - Cell 2|
|DNF||Julia Karlsson (Sweden)||Row 151 - Cell 2|
|DNS||Marlies Mejias Garcia (Cuba)||Row 152 - Cell 2|
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