Hello and welcome to our live race text coverage from the UCI Road World Championships 2020: Elite Women Road Race. The race starts in just under 40 minutes and we'll be here throughout the day with complete live text coverage.
With the start in about 35 minutes from now, it's an excellent time to make yourself familiar with the start list. Here it is, and it's jam-packed with star quality, as you would expect for such a major event.
The biggest news on the eve of today's 143km race is that Annemiek van Vleuten starts. That's despite the fact that she is suffering from a fractured wrist she picked up at the Giro Rosa less than a fortnight ago. She has been medically cleared to race and that's a huge bit of positive news for the Dutch team. Of course, Annemiek van Vleuten comes into the race as the defending champion in the road race after her truly mind blowing exploits last year in Yorkshire. That race felt more like a procession with the Dutch rider attacking so far from home and leaving the entire peloton in the dust. Here's the latest on her health.
We actually spoke to the defending champion on Thursday, and here's what she had to say.
"My wrist feels quite good and I can’t complain because, for me, it’s a miracle how it feels," Van Vleuten told Cyclingnews in a phone interview on Thursday evening after travelling to Italy.
“I don’t have pain on the bike and I can grab my handlebars, 100 percent. I don’t have any problems with bike handling and that is something that was important in my decision."
Even without AVV in their ranks the Dutch are the team to beat. Just look at their roster. They're going for their fourth straight title.
1 Annemiek van Vleuten (Netherlands)
2 Floortje Mackaij (Netherlands)
3 Amy Pieters (Netherlands)
4 Chantal van den Broek-Blaak (Netherlands)
5 Anna van der Breggen (Netherlands)
6 Ellen van Dijk (Netherlands)
7 Demi Vollering (Netherlands)
8Marianne Vos (Netherlands)
They're not the only team in this race though so lets take a look at some of the other favourites. We'll start with the British squad. They have 2015 champion Deignan and the very versatile Banks in the team. They went 1-2 in Plouay in August and should be there in the final with Barnes too. Heres what Deignan said on the eve of the race:
“I think what's going to be different for us is having as many women in the final as possible. The last three laps will be crucial and I expect both Lizzy Banks and Hannah Barnes to be there, they've both shown they were in really good form in the Giro," Deignan said.
"It's hard for everyone to see what's going on, especially with Hannah, she was working for Kasia but she was clearly very strong in the Giro and of course, Lizzy has burst on to the scene with all these results and she's so positive on and off the bike and she's an exciting rider to race with. We need to be there and have the numbers, it's the only way we're going to beat the Dutch."
The Italians also come with a very strong team, but Longo Borghini is their protected rider as they race on home soil. She's flying at the moment too, which helps.
9 Marta Cavalli (Italy)
10 Elena Cecchini (Italy)
11 Tatiana Guderzo (Italy)
12 Elisa Longo Borghini (Italy)
13 Erica Magnaldi (Italy)
14 Soraya Paladin (Italy)
15 Katia Ragusa (Italy)
The Danish team will be competitive too. They've got a former world champ in their team and the aggressive Uttrup Ludwig.
37 Birgitte Andersen (Denmark)
38 Amalie Dideriksen (Denmark)
39 Emma Norsgaard (Denmark)
40 Julie Leth (Denmark)
41 Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig (Denmark)
42Pernille Mathiesen (Denmark)
Australia almost always rise to the occasion, and although they're missing Spratt through concussion, they'll have numbers towards the end of the race:
23 Grace Brown (Australia)
24 Brodie Chapman (Australia)
25 Shara Gillow (Australia)
26 Lucy Kennedy (Australia)
27 Rachel Neylan (Australia)
28 Sarah Roy (Australia)
29 Tiffany Cromwell (Australia)
We're 15 minutes from the official start now and riders are making their way to the start line.
We have another favourite to talk about and it's Niewiadoma . We spoke to her last night.
“This year, with the coronavirus pandemic and all the uncertainty around the calendar, I didn’t put any pressure on myself. I didn’t start Giro thinking “I need to win”... I feel like every year I had some pressure ahead of the Giro and I’m not sure where it was coming from. Everyone always told me that this is a suitable race for me, that I can fight here, etc. But it never felt right, I didn’t think it was really for me, and it was always blocking me. This year I didn’t have anything planned. I wanted to race, to show that I came out of the lockdown in good shape” – Niewiadoma told Cyclingnews.
“Giro was held in September, not in July, that helped, too. I don’t want to blame it all on the high temperatures but I am not myself when it gets really hot. I usually feel well in the spring and all the way to Women’s Tour. After racing the Giro in that heat, I then feel the fatigue for the rest of the season.”
And we also have a few words with Elizabeth Banks from the Great Britain team:
"Lizzie and I are both very similar riders. We’ve got a really strong team here and she’s a really easy person to work with. The fact that our characteristics are quite similar puts us in a really good position for this race. It makes it more challenging for our rivals. I’m sure that our coach will come up with a great plan on the day," said Banks.
"She’s a proven winner and has won this race before. She knows what it takes and whatever happens, I’ll be fully in the service of the GB team. The course here really suits the British Cycling riders. I messaged Lizzie and told her that this was the perfect course for us. I truly believe that we can achieve something here. The Dutch are always hard to beat but I think that this is the best course possible for us.”
AVV has spoken just before the start:
'I wouldn't be here if I didn't think that I had a chance. This course actually suits me better than last year's course."
The field is now on the startline and we're about to begin the elite women's road race at this year's World Championships.
As the defending champions, the Dutch team are on the front of the peloton as we line up on the circuit.
It's 28.km circuit and it's undulating throughout. There are two main climbs, both around 3km in length the Mazzolano (2.8km at an average gradient of 5.9 per cent, with maximum gradients of 13 per cent) and the Cima Gallisterna (2.7km at 6.4 per cent, with stretches at 14 per cent).
And we're off. We're in a neutralized zone for now, and there's some wind out there just like there was yesterday but the skies are blue and the sun is out. It's time to go racing!
We're going to have attacks from the gun as we see riders already jostling for position near the front of the peloton.
Riders are itching to get going as we make our way around the impressive motor circuit but the flag hasn't been dropped just yet.
If you want to know more about the favourites, check out Kirsten Frattini's excellent top-ten riders to watch.
The riders have completed a lap of the motor racing circuit and the racing will start soon enough.
Crash in the neutral zone and Banks needs a new bike. A few riders went down, they're all back on their feet but the GB co-leader needs a new machine.
The neutralized zone might be extended because of that fall. We're off the circuit and onto the open roads.
Banks is back. She's shaking her head but she should be fine.
Finally we are racing. And there's an acceleration of pace right away. Crash.
Mae Lang (Estonia) is down and so are at least two more riders as we see the Danes and the US on the front.
Spain also have numbers but no real attacks just yet with 141km to go.
Already we have about 8 riders off the back as the pace is so high while up front Spain move up with Garcia well protected.
Pernille Mathiesen is the Dane that we can see struggling at the back of the main field. She may have been held up in that crash but she's just making contact now.
Briet Kristy Gunnarsdottir (Iceland) was in that crash and she's in trouble already. She is trying to fix her left shifter as she goes but she might need to stop again.
Up front the pace is so high that we can't see any major attacks coming right now.
The Dutch now move up and set the pace at the front of the peloton as they try and make sure that there are no attacks. 138km to go.
We are fast approaching today's first major climb, so positioning is going to be key. And we're climbing.
We're on the Mazzolano as the Germans and Dutch set tempo. This is a 2.5km climb and it could make the difference as we see a number of riders start to struggle near the back of the peloton.
It looks like a cross-headwind out there at the moment as a few more riders are distanced from the back of the peloton. Still no attacks.
Marie Soleil Blais (Canada) is off the back and it looks like she's waiting for assistance as we approach the steeper sections at the top of the climb. Still 800m until the summit but the pace is steady rather than full-gas fast.
Off the climb and onto the descent. There a few small gaps with 132km to go but they've all been closed down. No attacks but the race is nicely building up.
It's a grind and riders are being distanced in their ones and twos right now. At the front and the favourites are just keeping safe and out of trouble.
Here's a bit more from Banks ahead of today's race:
"I’ve just come from the Giro Rosa and I’ve think I’ve shown there that I’ve got pretty good form. I’m climbing the best I’ve ever climbed in my life. I did have a crash on the final day of the Giro which wasn’t ideal and after a crash you always feel a bit stiff but I think that the timing of the road race and the time trial are perfect to get the super-compensation after a hard race like the Giro."
We're fast approaching the next climb though, the Cima Gallisterna (2.7km at 6.4 per cent, with stretches at 14 per cent). 130km to go in the race.
There's a jump in pace as riders fight for position ahead of the climb.
Deignan has moved to the head of affairs for the first time in the race as she protects her position in the peloton.
Sarah Roy from Australia has been near the front for most of the race and she's still setting the pace on this climb we see a few of the Belgians dropped early on.
There's a large split on the climb but as we crest the top it's all going to come back together. 125km to go.
It's quite a technical descent and the road really narrows as the Danes pick up the pace.
Worrack is on the front too. Her first worlds came back in 1998 in Valkenburg, when she was a junior. Tina Liebig, another German, won that race.
120km to go and there's a major crash in the peloton. All the riders are back on their feet on this descent but there was a Dutch rider involved.
Anna van der Breggen. It's her. She's by the side of the road and needs mechanical assistance.
The pace is high and Anna van der Breggen should make it back but this is going to cost her energy. 118km to go.
Anna van der Breggen is chasing through the back of the field as we approach the motor racing circuit to conclude the opening lap. The TT winner is in a chase group but she should make it back as the peloton have eased up for a moment.
But there's an attack from the US and Italy as Anna van der Breggen struggles to make contact, as we see two riders have dropped back to help pace Anna van der Breggen back to the field.
The attack has been shut down with 117km to go but there's still a significant gap for Anna van der Breggen to close. It's about 12 seconds at the moment.
The peloton come over the line and complete the first lap of the elite women's world championships. The gap to Anna van der Breggen is about 5 seconds.
Anna van der Breggen has made it back as we see the peloton take on some fresh bottles. Krista Doebel-Hickok has a bit of a problem in the feedzone and is forced to chase.
Krista Doebel-Hickok is by the side of the road and needs a new bike, while up front her US teammates, racing without Dygert are setting the pace.
110km to go
All together with one full lap of the race completed. We're onto the second lap though, with the Mazzolano climb looming on the horizon.
We're onto the climb now and the pace is once again steady. A few more riders slip off the back but all the main favourites remain in contention as we see Krista Doebel-Hickok make contact after a long chase.
Nothing from the Dutch yet other than pacing Van Der Breggen back after her crash. Almost by this point last year they already had the winner up the road.
And there's an attack with Belgium giving it a go with 107km to go. It's Valerie Demey who has gone it alone and she has a gap. Why don't more riders come on over to Valerie? She's got a 20-second lead.
Valerie Demey has 30 second already but there's still no reaction from the main field. 105km to go.
Over the top of the climb for Valerie Demey and then the peloton with the gap at 34 seconds. Valerie Demey has never won a pro race but she's had a couple of top-tens this season as we see her flying down the descent.
The gap to the lone leader is down to 25 seconds with 102.km to go.
Valerie Demey is battling away but she needs some support. It's not going to happen though as she looks around and sees the peloton close to 20 seconds with 101km to go.
Deignan is once more on the front with no teammates around her. She wants the best position for the climb, which is about to start now.
Anna Plichta (Poland) is struggling at the back of the peloton, which is somewhat of a surprise.
Our lone leader is about to be caught, her gap now at just 5 seconds as we approach the top of the climb.
Once more there's no movement from the peloton as they ride tempo up the climb. 98km to go with Valerie Demey holding a five second lead as she starts the descent.
All back together with 96km to go as a few riders try and make contact after losing ground on the climb.
There an attack and it comes from Alison Jackson from Canada with 93km to go. The Sunweb rider has had some great results in the last couple of years and this could be an important move if more riders can bridge over.
Two more riders skip clear but it's still Jackson in the lead as she leads the race onto the circuit but the Dutch lift the pace for the first time, and they don't want a break to go.
The two riders have been caught and Jackson is sitting up as well. 89km to go as the bunch once more comes back together.
Jackson isn't caught and now Brown for Australia goes clear and Jackson follows with 88km to go. This group might be small but it's full of quality.
Brown with 5th in the TT a couple of days ago, won a stage in the Tour Down Under last year and is a class act, even though she's only relatively new in the sport.
85km to go and the leading duo have 26 seconds as Denmark set the pace at the front of the peloton.
And at the start of lap three and the USA attack through the feedzone. There's a crash for a Dutch rider and with 84km to go this is a massive moment in the race. That injection of pace cuts the lead to 14 seconds.
The counter attack group is close to the two leaders with 83km to go but the climb is coming.
We now have about 10 riders in the lead and there's no real chase, and that leads to more attacks from the peloton.
Labous from France and both Barnes sisters are in this group.
La Flamme Rouge confirms our front group:
Chasing group: Pieters (NED), Ragusa (ITA), Barnes Alice and Hannah (GBR), Labous (FRA), Andersen (NOR), Majerus (LUX), Brown and Jackson.
Spain have missed the move and they're leading the chase as we start the Mazzolano and we can see Garcia is trying to bridge up. The leaders only have about 10 seconds.
Garcia makes contact as Alice Barnes is dropped. 79km to go.
The gap goes out to 20 seconds but who will chase this? Poland, perhaps?
There's not a lot of cooperation in the leading group as we see Brown has been dropped by the break with 78km to go. The gap is at 30 seconds.
That means Australia might need to chase this move down, or at least contribute, but a lot depends on whether the Dutch are content with the make-up of the break.
There's more collaboration in the break and the gap has moved out to 1'32 with 73km to go. This is starting to get interesting because the Dutch can't chase this down but they can't let the gap go to three or four minutes.
The gap is just holding at the moment at 1'21, so it's still touch and go with this break.
The break hit the second climb on the course and the gap goes out to 1'34. We have 71km to go.
Wiles is doing a lot of work on the front of the break as we continue to climb. The gap remains at 1'30.
Australia react, with Brown caught, as the post three riders on the front. They're looking to bring this all back together again with the gap now down to 1'21.
Dozens of riders are being dropped now from the main field with 69km to go, including Alice Barnes as the leaders remain 1'21 ahead.
And we see Annemiek van Vleuten for the first time as she moves to the front. 67km to go and the gap is just holding at 1'20. So riders from the main field are going to counter soon.
Poland have one rider on the front but there's no real commitment to chase. Eugenia Bujak (Slovenia) has attacked and is on her way to the main break.
Italy have moved up and they might not be happy even though they have a rider in the break. 61km to go.
And the gap is going out, it's now at 2'08. The Dutch look at the Italians, the Italians look at the Dutch. This break is starting to become a real concern but no one wants to move just yet.
GB move up, Australia move up, and the Danish team too. 61km to go and the break is at 2'13.
We're back onto the motor circuit with just over two laps remaining as we see Eugenia Bujak (Slovenia) continue her lone pursuit. She's still a minute down, with the peloton at 2'14.
The leaders are: Pieters (NED), Ragusa (ITA), Brennauer (GER), Wiles (USA), Barnes (GBR), Garcia (ESP), Labous (FRA), Jackson (CAN) and Majerus (LUX). via LaFlameRouge.
The conversations in the Dutch car will be fascinating. They would have wanted more numbers up the road but Pieters is a worldclass rider. She's not Vleuten or Van Der Breggen though.
Now onto the fourth lap with the leaders going through the feedzone with their gap at 2'07. The climbs on this lap might determine how this race unfolds.
Garcia is on the front and she's doing a lot of work to keep this break alive. She's probably the best climber in the break, so she doesn't want more riders to make contact. 53km to go and the gap is at 1'54. It looks like Cromwell is off the back at the moment for Australia.
There's a big crash on a descent and Moolman Pasio is down. She's quickly back up but that's far from ideal at this point in the race as we head to the Mazzolano with 50km to go. The hammer has gone down and the peloton are at 1'21.
Deignan has moved up, we're climbing and the race is coming back together as rider after rider is blown out the back. Roy and Cecchini have both been distanced.
And with 50km to go Van Der Breggen hits the front and now the race is about to blow up.
We're about to hit the hardest part of the climb as Deignan marks Van Der Breggen and the peloton lines out.
That turn from the Dutch has reduced the bunch to about 20 riders with groups all over the road. That cross wind is still there too, so this is going to be carnage. The leaders only have 14 seconds with 49km to go.
The pace from the Dutch is relentless with Longo Borghini now in second wheel. There maybe 4-5 Dutch riders in the peloton, or what's left of it. I think I make it six, and we still have one up the road.
The leaders only have 15 seconds at this point and with one more climb to come on this lap, they could be caught fairly soon.
Amy Pieters is driving the break but it's her team who are also setting the pace too on the front of the peloton, as we approach the final climb on this lap. 45km to go.
The Dutch are flying now as we start climbing and it's time for Vos to hit the front. On her own she brings the break back with 42km to go and now Annemiek van Vleuten hits the front.
Annemiek van Vleuten lines out the peloton and sets the pace and now she's out of the saddle and stamping on the pedals and Deignan is in troube.
Only a handful of riders can cope this with as Deignan digs deep as Annemiek van Vleuten pushes on. We've got maybe six riders left at this point but now it's five as Deignan is losing ground.
Longo Borghini is there, and Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig, and Van der Breggen as Van Der Breggen attacks with 41km to go.
Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig is trying to chase but Van der Breggen is clear as she climbs on her own. Behind, we have a group of AVV, Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig and Longo Borghini. The Dutch has torn this race apart.
Longo Borghini is trying to mount a chase but the gap is still around 9 seconds. The Italian will not give up easily.
The rest of the field is all over the climb, and the race is in pieces. Nothing from Katarzyna Niewiadoma, who was a favourite before today.
Our chase group is Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig (Denmark), Elisa Longo Borghini (Italy) and Annemiek van Vleuten (Netherlands). They're at 20 seconds with 40km to go. Can she go for another long range move as she did two years ago? She is of course going for the double, after winning the TT on Thursday, as we see Deignan make it four chasers, although Annemiek van Vleuten (Netherlands) will not take a single turn.
The Dutch are in a perfect position with Annemiek van Vleuten (Netherlands) able to sit at the back and just wait as Van Der Breggen extends her gap to 38 seconds.
Anna van der Breggen has 54 seconds. If she stays upright and doesn't forget to fuel then it's going to be almost impossible to catch her.
32km to go and the gap is over a minute, 1'06 to be exact. The chasers, minus AVV are working hard to chase as we see Anna van der Breggen hit the motor racing circuit for the start of the penultimate lap.
The chase group are sitting up and there's a much bigger group now forming but Anna van der Breggen has 1'30 with 29km to go.
Italy are leading the chase and the gap is at 1'21 with the peloton now on the last lap.
This is almost the same race from two years ago but at least the Italians are keeping the pressure on as they race for what is likely going to be a silver medal. The gap is now at 1'41 with 25km to go.
24.km to go and the gap is down by a few more seconds as the Italians throw everything at this. They're not throwing in the towel and they do have the numbers but I'm not sure the gap is coming down fast enough. Germany and Spain are now contributing.
1'28 so we almost have a race again. Lets see what the gap is at the top of the penultimate climb.
Anna van der Breggen is just holding the gap at 1'30 for now with 23km to go.
And Anna van der Breggen is climbing at 10 per cent as Italy keep the pressure on. The gap isn't coming down but the home nation are trying to set up Longo Borghini for a silver medal as things stand.
GB hit the front of the climb with Deignan on second wheel. The gap to Anna van der Breggen is back out to 1'44, she's just in a different league.
20km to go and the gap is now out to almost two minutes, so the rest of the field are racing for silver.
GB continue to set the pace for Deignan but the Dutch still have six riders in the chase group. 18km to go and the gap to Anna van der Breggen is at 2'01.
Just one more climb left for Anna van der Breggen before she becomes the first rider to win the TT and road race at same championships since Jeannie Longo in 1995.
14km to go and Italy are back to the front. The Dutch will surely attack on the final climb to with Vos and AVV if they have the legs. They helped make the difference on the last lap.
The bunch, or what's left of it, hit the base of the final climb and we should see some action.
Kennedy lifts the pace as AVV and Deignan match each other at the front.
No attacks yet and a lot of these riders look cooked it must be said. 2'28 for Van Der Breggen with 12km to go.
Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig attacks and Borghini and Deignan hang on.
Deignan and now AVV are coming back and it's really blowing up on the final climb. AVV goes by Deignan and then Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig.
Annemiek van Vleuten and Longo Borghini are together with a short gap on the chase. 10km to go and this could be the medal positions decided.
This duo are on the descent and they have about 10 seconds at the moment.
Deignan is leading the third group but Annemiek van Vleuten and Longo Borghini have a good gap and they're working well together.
Just 7.5km to go for Anna Van Der Breggen before she becomes the world champion on the road for the second time in her career.
Vos is in the Deignan group but the British rider isn't getting a tap of help from the of the group.
Annemiek van Vleuten and Elisa Longo Borghini have 30 seconds on the Deignan group so they will decide the rest of the podium.
Van der Breggen makes it onto the motor racing circuit with 3km to go. She's about to take her second title in three days.
Anna Van Der Breggen wins the women's road race at the 2020 World Championships.
Here we go for the sprint for silver and Longo Borghini is leading out.
The Italian goes first.
That was so close but I think Annemiek van Vleuten took silver.
Vos is fourth, of course.
Let's hear from our winner:
It’s incredible. It was a really hard race and there was fighting from the beginning. The climbs were really tough and on the penultimate lap I felt strong and we discussed in front trying to make the race hard. We did it and I just went for it. I thought that in the last lap everyone would be tired and that it would be difficult to make the difference on the climbs so I went but it was really far.
I didn’t think about Innsbruck in the race. The circuit here was different and it had some flat parts. It was hard all the same but I’m really happy. I never expected this. It’s incredible.
The season has been incredible so far. It’s everything behind each other but if you’re in shape then it’s also a good thing. I’m pretty tired now but the season so far has been pretty good for me.
You can find our complete results, photos, and report, right here.
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