Anna van der Breggen brought the Netherlands its fourth consecutive world title in the elite women’s road race at the 2020 UCI Road World Championships in Imola. It was her second world title in three days having also won the time trial on Thursday, an accomplishment that has not been done since Frenchwoman Jeannie Longo won both titles in 1995.
“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,” Van der Breggen said.
“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 [where she won the world title in 2018 - ed.]. 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.”
Annemiek van Vleuten (Netherlands), who came into the race with a broken wrist, secured the silver medal after a two-up sprint with Elisa Longo Borghini (Italy) on the Autodromo Internazionale Enzo e Dino Ferrari. Marianne Vos (Netherlands) secured fourth place from a reduced chase-group sprint - giving the Netherlands three places in the top four.
How it unfolded
The women’s 143km road race, five laps of a 28km circuit, started and finished at the Autodromo Internazionale Enzo e Dino Ferrari in Imola, and it featured two steep climbs on each circuit – the Mazzolano was 2.2km with an average gradient of 7 per cent and pitches as steep as 11 per cent, and the Cima Gallisterna was 2.3km with an average gradient of 7 per cent with pitches as steep as 14 per cent – and a total of 2,800 metres of climbing.
On the third lap, and with 83km to go, Alison Jackson (Canada) attacked and was quickly followed by Grace Brown (Australia). A select group of 10 bridged across to the pair to form a lead group of 12 riders. Joining Jackson and Brown were Juliette Labous (France), Lisa Brennauer (Germany), Katia Ragusa (Italy), Tayler Wiles (USA), Alice Barnes (Great Britain), Hannah Barnes (Great Britain), Amy Pieters (Netherlands), Susanne Andersen (Norway) and Christine Majerus (Luxembourg).
Spain realised they missed the move and tried to send one rider across but the Dutch brought her back, and that move was countered by Mavi Garcia, who successfully jumped across to the leaders midway up the Mazzolano ascent, as Alice Barnes and Grace Brown dropped off the back of the move.
The Dutch initially stayed toward the front monitoring the gap to the lead group, and then Australia moved forward once Brown was dropped. Other key nations that missed the move altogether were Poland, working for Kasia Niewiadoma, and Denmark working for Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig, and Switzerland.
On the Cima Gallisterna, 65km to go, the leaders on the road held 1:15 over the main field. However, the key contenders came to the front on the steeper sections of the climb mainly to stay in a good position and to be prepared for any decisive attacks from their rival. Over the top, Slovenia’s Eugenia Bujak jumped from the field to try to get across to the breakaway.
The nine breakaway riders; Jackson, Wiles, Barnes, Pieters, Majerus, Garcia, Ragusa, Brennauer, Andersen, Labous, continued to push their lead out to 2:14, with 61km to go, which became too dangerous, even for the Italian team that had a rider in the move, but perhaps not a rider who could contest a potential breakaway sprint.
On the penultimate lap, Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio (South Africa) was involved in a crash on a tight downhill corner, and although she was able to get back up, she was out of contention for the more decisive racing to come. Bujak finally made the connection after 15km of chasing with 50km to go, however, the gap to the lead group had dropped by under a minute over the Mazzolano climb.
Van der Breggen’s winning move
The key contenders of the race attacked from the main field on the Mazzolano climb with two laps to go. Anna van der Breggen (Netherlands) launched one strong attack followed by Lizzie Deignan (Great Britain), Elisa Longo Borghini (Italy), Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig (Denmark), Annemiek van Vleuten (Netherlands), Marianne Vos (Netherlands) all in a decisive front group of roughly 30 riders.
The Dutch had the numbers in the reduced peloton, also including Chantal van den Broek-Blaak, Demi Vollering, Ellen van Dijk, and then added Amy Pieters into the mix once they closed the gap to the initial breakaway. All the key contenders, minus Moolman-Pasio, made the front group over the Mazzolano and heading into the Cima Gallisterna.
Vos came to the front and led the field into the Cima Gallisterna with Van Vleuten on her wheel (42km to go), as the defending champion took over at the front. Van Vleuten then got out of the saddle in an attack on the lower slopes of the climb and was followed by Longo Borghini, Uttrup Ludwig, and then Van der Breggen on her wheel. Deignan and Lianne Lippert (Germany), along with Niewiadoma, all lost contact part way up as the race exploded into pieces.
Van der Breggen counter attacked and opened a sizeable gap as Van Vleuten continued chasing with Longo Borghini and Uttrup Ludwig on her wheel. Over the top of the Cima Gallisterna, Van der Breggen had 11 seconds and appeared to be riding away, in similar fashion to her solo performance that won her the 2018 world title in Innsbruck.
Longo Borghini, wanting to get rid of Van Vleuten, attacked her chase companions but couldn’t gain any time on Van Vleuten and Uttrup Ludwig, as Deignan caught back up to the chasers on the descent.Van der Breggen, who won the time trial world title two days earlier, raced into the final lap with a 1:23 gap on Deignan, Uttrup Ludwig, Longo Borghini and Van Vleuten sitting on the back with no pressure to help chase. The four chasers looked back to see the main field right behind them on the race track and once they were reunited, Lizzy Banks (Great Britain) rode straight to the front to set the tempo, however, a lack of organisation among the other nations, with the exception of the Italian team, meant that Van der Breggen’s lead continued to grow.
The race for silver and bronze
As van der Breggen pushed a big gear and raced smoothly in a time trial-like position to maintain a 1:30 lead, the race behind her had to settle for second and third place.Van der Breggen increased that lead to 1:50 on the last time up the Mazzolano climb, as Anna Shackley, just 19 years old, led the reduced main field with Deignan on her wheel. A small gap opened and Shackley on the descent but the field remained together as the raced into the final climb over the Cima Gallisterna.
Van der Breggen further increased her lead to 2:18, effectively and barring any accidents, sealed the world title over the last climb. Italy and Great Britain, with the strongest contenders Longo Borghini and Deignan, set the pace on the flatter roads before the climb with 13km to go, in the race for the lesser medals.
Uttrup Ludwig attacked over the Cima with Longo Borghini, as Deignan struggle to stay on their wheels. Van Vleuten caught up to the attack and crested the climb with Longo Borghini as Uttrup Ludwig was distanced on the upper slopes.With Van der Breggen safely at nearly two minutes up the road with the victory, Van Vleuten took her turn in the rotation with Longo Borghini to try and stay away from the chase group at 30 seconds behind. Longo Borghini attacked several times on the smaller hills on the run-in to the finish as she tried to drop Van Vleuten.
As Van der Breggen crossed the line, she had enough time to get off her bike and watch the sprint for second place. Longo Borghini led Van Vleuten onto the race track and through the final kilometre. The Italian hugged the barriers and then started her sprint first, but mistakenly allowed a small gap to open up along the barriers for Van Vleuten to come through on the inside to take the silver medal. Marianne Vos sprinted from a small chase group to take fourth place.
The rainbow jersey-glory went to the Dutch team once again and with Van der Breggen securing her second world title in two days in Imola.
|Pos.||Rider Name (Country) Team||Result|
|1||Anna van der Breggen (Netherlands)||4:09:57|
|2||Annemiek van Vleuten (Netherlands)||0:01:20|
|3||Elisa Longo Borgini (Italy)|
|4||Marianne Vos (Netherlands)||0:02:01|
|5||Liane Lippert (Germany)|
|6||Elizabeth Deignan (Great Britain)|
|7||Katarzyna Niewiadoma (Poland)|
|8||Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig (Denmark)||0:02:41|
|9||Lisa Brennauer (Germany)||0:03:08|
|10||Marlen Reusser (Switzerland)|
|11||Lauren Stephens (United States Of America)|
|12||Chantal van den Broek-Blaak (Netherlands)|
|13||Audrey Cordon Ragot (France)|
|14||Eugenia Bujak (Slovenia)|
|15||Niamh Fisher-black (New Zealand)|
|16||Rasa Leleivyte (Lithuania)|
|17||Urska Pintar (Slovenia)|
|18||Mavi Garcia (Spain)|
|19||Dijk Van (Netherlands)|
|20||Evita Muzic (France)|
|21||Eri Yonamine (Japan)|
|22||Mikayla Harvey (New Zealand)|
|23||Ane Santesteban (Spain)|
|24||Katrine Aalerud (Norway)|
|25||Anna Shackley (Great Britain)|
|26||Tayler Wiles (United States Of America)|
|27||Sandra Levenez (France)|
|28||Lucy Kennedy (Australia)|
|29||Krista Doebel-hickok (United States Of America)|
|30||Alison Jackson (Canada)||0:04:49|
|31||Katia Ragusa (Italy)||0:04:51|
|32||Brodie Chapman (Australia)||0:05:50|
|33||Marta Cavalli (Italy)||0:07:25|
|34||Amy Pieters (Netherlands)||0:09:29|
|35||Demi Vollering (Netherlands)|
|36||Hannah Barnes (Great Britain)|
|37||Coryn Rivera (United States Of America)||0:10:16|
|38||Spela Kern (Slovenia)|
|39||Arlenis Sierra (Cuba)|
|40||Omer Shapira (Israel)|
|41||Juliette Labous (France)|
|42||Sara Poidevin (Canada)|
|43||Aigul Gareeva (Russian Federation)||0:11:50|
|44||Anna Kiesenhofer (Austria)||0:11:53|
|45||Tatiana Guderzo (Italy)||0:12:57|
|46||Georgia Williams (New Zealand)||0:14:01|
|47||Teniel Campbell (Trinidad & Tabago)|
|48||Marta Lach (Poland)|
|49||Maria Novolodskaya (Russian Federation)|
|50||Valerie Demey (Belgium)|
|51||Rachel Neylan (Australia)|
|52||Hanna Nilsson (Sweden)|
|53||Jesse Vandenbulcke (Belgium)|
|54||Kata Blanka Vas (Hungary)|
|55||Paula Patino (Colombia)|
|56||Ashleigh Moolman-pasio (South Africa)|
|57||Ievgeniia Vysotska (Ukraine)|
|58||Elise Chabbey (Switzerland)|
|59||Leah Kirchmann (Canada)|
|60||Anna Henderson (Great Britain)|
|61||Emma Jorgensen (Denmark)|
|62||Christine Majerus (Luxembourg)|
|63||Elizabeth Banks (Great Britain)|
|64||Nikola Noskova (Czech Republic)|
|65||Erica Magnaldi (Italy)|
|66||Karol-ann Canuel (Canada)|
|67||Soraya Paladin (Italy)|
|68||Sarah Roy (Australia)||0:14:43|
|69||Amber Neben (United States Of America)||0:15:08|
|70||Susanne Andersen (Norway)||0:15:13|
|71||Stine Borgli (Norway)|
|72||Victorie Guilman (France)|
|73||Melanie Maurer (Switzerland)||0:15:53|
|74||Tereza Neumanova (Czech Republic)||0:18:03|
|75||Franziska Koch (Germany)||0:20:08|
|76||Jarmila Machacova (Czech Republic)||0:21:12|
|77||Diana Klimova (Russian Federation)||0:21:18|
|78||Yuliia Biriukova (Ukraine)||0:21:20|
|79||Sara Martin (Spain)|
|80||Malgorzata Jasinska (Poland)||0:21:22|
|81||Ariadna Gutierrez (Mexico)||0:22:57|
|82||Lija Laizane (Latvia)|
|83||Carolina Upegui (Colombia)|
|84||Anastasiya Kolesava (Belarus)||0:23:42|
|85||Karolina Kumiega (Poland)|
|86||Sarah Rijkes (Austria)|
|87||Noemi Ruegg (Switzerland)|
|88||Eyeru Tesfoam Gebru (Ethiopia)||0:26:47|
|89||Ingrid Lorvik (Norway)|
|90||Amalie Dideriksen (Denmark)|
|91||Grace Brown (Australia)|
|92||Floortje Mackaij (Netherlands)|
|93||Julie Leth (Denmark)|
|94||Lone Meertens (Belgium)|
|95||Tereza Medvedova (Slovakia)|
|96||Catalina Anais Soto Campos (Chile)|
|97||Alicia Gonzalez Blanco (Spain)|
|98||Sandra Alonso Dominguez (Spain)|
|99||Mieke Kroger (Germany)||0:27:47|
|100||Fien van Eynde (Belgium)|
|101||Kathrin Hammes (Germany)|
|102||Mieke Docx (Belgium)|
|103||Olivija Baleisyte (Lithuania)||0:29:24|
|104||Julia Borgstrom (Sweden)||0:30:06|
|105||Urska Zigart (Slovenia)||0:33:33|
|DNF||Ruth Winder (United States Of America)|
|DNF||Gloria Rodriguez Sanchez (Spain)|
|DNF||Tiffany Cromwell (Australia)|
|DNF||Lisa Norden (Sweden)|
|DNF||Alice Barnes (Great Britain)|
|DNF||Elena Cecchini (Italy)|
|DNF||Romy Kasper (Germany)|
|DNF||Trixi Worrack (Germany)|
|DNF||Angelika Tazreiter (Austria)|
|DNF||Fernanda Yapura (Argentina)|
|DNF||Brenda Andrea Santoyo Perez (Mexico)|
|DNF||Andrrera Ramirez Fregoso (Mexico)|
|DNF||Katarzyna Wilkos (Poland)|
|DNF||Urska Bravec (Slovenia)|
|DNF||Ann-sophie Duyck (Belgium)|
|DNF||Valeriya Kononenko (Ukraine)|
|DNF||Shara Gillow (Australia)|
|DNF||Pernille Mathiesen (Denmark)|
|DNF||Anna Plichta (Poland)|
|DNF||Birgitte Andersen (Denmark)|
|DNF||Daniela Atehortua Hoyos (Colombia)|
|DNF||Magdeleine Vallieres Mill (Canada)|
|DNF||Fatima el Hayani (Morocco)|
|DNF||Maria Gaxiola Gonzalez (Mexico)|
|DNF||Akvile Gedraityte (Lithuania)|
|DNF||Kerry Jonker (South Africa)|
|DNF||Nina Berton (Luxembourg)|
|DNF||Marie Soliel Blais (Canada)|
|DNF||Mae Lang (Estonia)|
|DNF||Briet Kristy Gunnarsdottir (Iceland)|
|DNF||Agusta Edda Bjornsdottir (Iceland)|
|DNF||Hafdis Sigurdardottir (Iceland)|
|DNF||Claire Faber (Luxembourg)|
|DNF||Martine Gjos (Norway)|
|DNF||Siham Es-saddy (Morocco)|
|DNS||Mie Bjorndal Ottestad (Norway)|
|DNS||Alena Amialiusik (Belarus)|
|DNS||Olga Zabelinskaya (Uzbekistan)|
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Kirsten Frattini is an honours graduate of Kinesiology and Health Science from York University in Toronto, Canada. She has been involved in bike racing from the grassroots level to professional cycling's WorldTour. She has worked in both print and digital publishing, and started with Cyclingnews as a North American Correspondent in 2006. Moving into a Production Editor's role in 2014, she produces and publishes international race coverage for all cycling disciplines, edits news and writes features. Currently the Women's Editor at Cyclingnews, Kirsten coordinates global coverage of races, news, features and podcasts about women's professional cycling.
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