Anna van der Breggen (Netherlands) soloed to victory in the elite women’s road race at the UCI Road World Championships in Innsbruck. The Olympic champion went on the attack with 40km to go, bridging up to the break before going it alone after dropping Amanda Spratt (Australia).
Spratt, who was leading a dangerous breakaway before the Dutch rider sprung into action, was chasing over three minutes behind Van der Breggen for silver, with the experienced Italian Tatiana Guderzo, who attacked from small group, also solo and chasing third.
Coryn Rivera (USA) kicked off the action as the riders reached the circuit and the climb of Igls for the first time. Her surprise attack saw a strong group including Spratt and Emilia Fahlin (Sweden) join her with 50km to race.
But back in the peloton, Van der Breggen countered an attack by teammate Annemiek van Vleuten, quickly bridging up to the leaders. Midway up the penultimate climb of the day, it was over, with the Dutchwoman and Spratt locked in a solo time trial while groups converged behind to fight for the final medal.
The win was characteristic of Van der Breggen’s one-day dominance in 2018, a fantastic season which has seen her win Strade Bianche, the Tour of Flanders, Liège-Bastogne-Liège and La Flèche Wallonne. All solo wins, of course, ranging from 50 metres to 27km on her own.
"I didn't know anything," Van der Breggen said after the finish. "I kept going and I think at the finish line I only believed it was possible, so yeah it's amazing. I had too many times this season that iI was caught at the finish, so I just kept on continuing and tried to eat and drink good and go as fast as possible.
"I was a bit doubting if it was too early or not but we tried to open things and then I got in this position so I took this opportunity and I had to go. I was actually [surprised to see the gap keep growing] so for me, it was a good thing and I had to keep going.
"The World Championships are always [a goal] and I know its so difficult to win it, so I'm really happy with this title."
How it happened
Running 156km from Kufstein to Innsbruck, the women's road race followed the exact same route as the men's race, taking in the same first four climbs before ending on the Innsbruck circuit. After the lumpy opening kilometres, a period of flat gave way to Gnadenwald, the hill which marked the start of the climbing.
After 63.9km, Gnadenwald – 2.8km at 10.1% – was the first test of the day, followed by a descent onto the Innsbruck circuit. Three laps of that 23.8km circuit would follow, with each one featuring the 7.9km Igls climb, which averaged 5.7% with some 10% sections. A fast, sweeping descent followed, with the top of the day's final climb coming 13.5km from the finish.
At the start of the race, the attacks flew, with Lotta Lepistö (Finland) among those having a go in the opening kilometres. It wasn't until Aurela Nerlo (Poland) went away after 15km that the break of the day was established, though. She was soon joined by Ana Sanabria (Colombia), with the peloton happy to let their pair build a lead.
With 120km left to run, including all the climbs, the lead duo enjoyed a two-minute lead. Back in the peloton, Lepistö went again, with Emma Jorgensen (Denmark) joining her in the counter-attack.
At the base of the Gnadenwald climb, the Dutch pair of Ellen van Dijk and Annemiek van Vleuten were among those caught up in a crash, quickly making their way back to the peloton. Up front, the leaders were 2:30 up, but that advantage would quickly evaporate.
The climb thinned things out, with only Nerlo and Lepistö left up front, and by the time they descended onto the circuit, it was over. Van Dijk, Cecilie Uttrup-Ludwig (Denmark) and Tatiana Guderzo (Italy) launched a move which Lepistö latched onto – they had a 30-second lead as the crossed the line for the first time.
Lepistö dropped back on the first climb of Igls while Lucy Kennedy (Australia) worked at the head of the peloton, whittling the group down to around 20 riders. By the top, with 60km to run, the lead group and the 'peloton' were back together.
Coryn Rivera (USA) was a surprise attacker over the top, swiftly building a 30-second lead. Heading into the final 50km she was joined out front by Van Dijk, Elena Pirrone (Italy), Emilia Fahlin (Sweden), Amanda Spratt (Australia) and Malgorzata Jasinska (Poland), though Van Dijk didn't stay there for long.
Further back, the Dutch were active, knowing that Spratt was a danger. Van Vleuten and Anna van der Breggen attacked and countered, with Van der Breggen powering away with 42km to go and quickly reaching the break.
The Dutchwoman kept going, taking Spratt with her, but was soon alone, pulling out a gap over the top of the climb and extending her advantage as the kilometres ticked by. Heading into the final lap of the race, Van der Breggen was 1:19 up on Spratt and 3:06 on the chase group of Fahlin, Jasinska and Rivera.
That chase group swelled to six as Guderzo, Amy Pieters (Netherlands) and Karol-Ann Canuel (Canada) bridged across. They wouldn't spend much time together though, with Guderzo pushing on alone in search of bronze with 15km to race.
The first three women on the road – Van der Breggen, Spratt and Guderzo – were separated by five minutes heading into the closing kilometres, their medals all but assured. Barring crashes or mechanical problems, the trio could savour the run-in to the finish.
|#||Rider Name (Country) Team||Result|
|1||Anna van der Breggen (Netherlands)||4:11:04|
|2||Amanda Spratt (Australia)||0:03:42|
|3||Tatiana Guderzo (Italy)||0:05:26|
|4||Emilia Fahlin (Sweden)||0:06:13|
|5||Malgorzata Jasinska (Poland)|
|6||Karol-Ann Canuel (Canada)||0:06:17|
|7||Annemiek van Vleuten (Netherlands)||0:07:05|
|8||Amy Pieters (Netherlands)|
|9||Lucinda Brand (Netherlands)||0:07:17|
|10||Ruth Winder (United States Of America)|
|11||Rasa Leleivyte (Lithuania)|
|12||Katarzyna Niewiadoma (Poland)|
|13||Elisa Longo Borghini (Italy)|
|14||Sara Poidevin (Canada)|
|15||Anastasiia Iakovenko (Russian Federation)|
|16||Megan Guarnier (United States Of America)|
|17||Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio (South Africa)|
|18||Clara Koppenburg (Germany)|
|19||Margarita Victo Garcia Cañellas (Spain)|
|20||Erica Magnaldi (Italy)|
|21||Katharine Hall (United States Of America)|
|22||Jolanda Neff (Switzerland)|
|23||Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig (Denmark)||0:07:22|
|24||Lucy Kennedy (Australia)||0:07:31|
|25||Leah Kirchmann (Canada)||0:08:18|
|26||Danielle Rowe (Great Britain)|
|27||Arlenis Sierra (Cuba)|
|28||Sofie De Vuyst (Belgium)|
|29||Stine Borgli (Norway)|
|30||Polona Batagelj (Slovenia)|
|31||Coryn Rivera (United States Of America)|
|32||Hanna Nilsson (Sweden)|
|33||Urska Pintar (Slovenia)|
|34||Eider Merino Cortazar (Spain)|
|35||Shara Gillow (Australia)|
|36||Sina Frei (Switzerland)|
|37||Annika Langvad (Denmark)|
|38||Edwige Pitel (France)|
|39||Yevgeniya Vysotska (Ukraine)|
|40||Julie van De Velde (Belgium)|
|41||Sophie Wright (Great Britain)||0:08:36|
|42||Kelly van Den Steen (Belgium)||0:09:00|
|43||Ingrid Lorvik (Norway)|
|44||Chantal Blaak (Netherlands)|
|45||Hannah Barnes (Great Britain)||0:10:58|
|46||Liane Lippert (Germany)|
|47||Georgia Williams (New Zealand)||0:11:01|
|48||Grace Brown (Australia)|
|49||Omer Shapira (Israel)||0:11:14|
|50||Githa Michiels (Belgium)||0:12:32|
|51||Alison Jackson (Canada)||0:12:48|
|52||Blanca Liliana Moreno Canchon (Colombia)||0:13:01|
|53||Ane Santesteban Gonzalez (Spain)|
|54||Brodie Chapman (Australia)|
|55||Maria Novolodskaya (Russian Federation)||0:13:10|
|56||Olga Shekel (Ukraine)||0:13:46|
|57||Lorena Llamas Garcia (Spain)||0:14:05|
|58||Elena Pirrone (Italy)|
|59||Angelika Tazreiter (Austria)||0:14:26|
|60||Ellen van Dijk (Netherlands)||0:14:29|
|61||Juliette Labous (France)|
|62||Fernanda Yapura (Argentina)|
|63||Sofia Bertizzolo (Italy)|
|64||Danielle Christmas (Great Britain)||0:14:51|
|65||Špela Kern (Slovenia)|
|66||Grace Anderson (New Zealand)|
|67||Urška Žigart (Slovenia)||0:14:55|
|68||Anna Plichta (Poland)||0:16:05|
|69||Janneke Ensing (Netherlands)|
|70||Diana Klimova (Russian Federation)||0:18:04|
|71||Amalie Dideriksen (Denmark)|
|72||Soraya Paladin (Italy)|
|73||Audrey Cordon Ragot (France)|
|74||Sara Bergen (Canada)||0:18:20|
|75||Stephanie Subercaseaux Vergara (Chile)||0:18:44|
|76||Paula Andrea Patiño Bedoya (Colombia)|
|77||Natalya Saifutdinova (Kazakhstan)|
|78||Caroline Bohé (Denmark)|
|79||Eri Yonamine (Japan)||0:20:47|
|80||Jeanne Korevaar (Netherlands)||0:22:33|
|81||Sarah Rijkes (Austria)||0:23:06|
|DNF||Marta Lach (Poland)|
|DNF||Alice Sharpe (Ireland)|
|DNF||Tayler Wiles (United States Of America)|
|DNF||Lisa Brennauer (Germany)|
|DNF||Anna Henderson (Great Britain)|
|DNF||Anabelle Dreville (France)|
|DNF||Sara Penton (Sweden)|
|DNF||Ana Maria Covrig (Romania)|
|DNF||Mónika Király (Hungary)|
|DNF||Antri Christoforou (Cyprus)|
|DNF||Pernille Mathiesen (Denmark)|
|DNF||Mikayla Harvey (New Zealand)|
|DNF||Katherine Maine (Canada)|
|DNF||Yixian Pu (People's Republic of China)|
|DNF||Amiliya Iskakova (Kazakhstan)|
|DNF||Trixi Worrack (Germany)|
|DNF||Elena Cecchini (Italy)|
|DNF||Charlotte Becker (Germany)|
|DNF||Eugénie Duval (France)|
|DNF||Aude Biannic (France)|
|DNF||Leah Thomas (United States Of America)|
|DNF||Lotta Pauliina Lepistö (Finland)|
|DNF||Jelena Eric (Serbia)|
|DNF||Eyeru Tesfoam Gebru (Ethiopia)|
|DNF||Kathrin Hammes (Germany)|
|DNF||Varvara Fasoi (Greece)|
|DNF||Anna Potokina (Russian Federation)|
|DNF||Katarzyna Wilkos (Poland)|
|DNF||Alicia Gonzalez Blanco (Spain)|
|DNF||Thi That Nguyen (Vietnam)|
|DNF||Aurela Nerlo (Poland)|
|DNF||Emma Cecilie Norsgaard Jørgensen (Denmark)|
|DNF||Nicole Hanselmann (Switzerland)|
|DNF||Hiromi Kaneko (Japan)|
|DNF||Vita Heine (Norway)|
|DNF||Susanne Andersen (Norway)|
|DNF||Tereza Medvedova (Slovakia)|
|DNF||Claire Faber (Luxembourg)|
|DNF||Teniel Campbell (Trinidad & Tabago)|
|DNF||Wing Yee Leung (Hong Kong, China)|
|DNF||Ana Cristina Sanabria Sanchez (Colombia)|
|DNF||Miyoko Karami (Japan)|
|DNF||Faina Potapova (Kazakhstan)|
|DNF||Anne-Sophie Harsch (Luxembourg)|
|DNF||Rotem Gafinovitz (Israel)|
|DNF||Alice Cobb (Great Britain)|
|DNF||Maja Perinovic (Croatia)|
|DNF||Cristina Martinez Bonafe (Spain)|
|DNF||Tatiana Jaseková (Slovakia)|
|DNF||Sarah Roy (Australia)|
|DNF||Tiffany Cromwell (Australia)|
|DNF||Alexis Ryan (United States Of America)|
|DNF||Tetiana Riabchenko (Ukraine)|
|DNF||Katrine Aalerud (Norway)|
|DNF||Martina Ritter (Austria)|
|DNF||Kseniia Dobrynina (Russian Federation)|
|DNF||Tereza Korvasová (Czech Republic)|
|DNF||Viivi Puskala (Finland)|
|DNF||Kaat Hannes (Belgium)|
|DNF||Camila Coelho Ferreira (Brazil)|
|DNF||Clemilda Fernandes Silva (Brazil)|
|DNF||Valerie Demey (Belgium)|
|DNF||Christa Riffel (Germany)|
|DNF||Elné Owen (South Africa)|
|DNF||Jeydy Pradera Bernal (Cuba)|
|DNF||Mosana Debesay (Eritrea)|
|DNF||Hoi Wah Leung (Hong Kong, China)|
|DNF||Rudina Baku (Albania)|
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Daniel Ostanek has been a staff writer at Cyclingnews since August 2019, having joined in 2017 as a freelance contributor and later part-time production editor. Before Cyclingnews, he was published in numerous publications around the cycling world, including Procycling, CyclingWeekly, CyclingTips, Cyclist, and Rouleur, among others. As well as reporting and writing news and features, Daniel runs the 'How to watch' content throughout the season.
Daniel has reported from the world's top races, including the Tour de France, and has interviewed a number of the sport's biggest stars, including Egan Bernal, Wout van Aert, Remco Evenepoel, Mark Cavendish, and Anna van der Breggen. Daniel rides a 2002 Landbouwkrediet Colnago C40 and his favourite races are Strade Bianche and the Vuelta a España.
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