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UCI Road World Championships 2021: Women's Elite Road Race - Live Coverage

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Hello and welcome to our live coverage of the 2021 women's world championship road race.

The race will get underway at 12:20 CET starting in Antwerp and covering 157.7km with 1,047m elevation including laps of two lumpy circuits around Leuven. 

When it comes to favourites the Dutch are, as ever, top of the list. Of the last 9 world championships only three have been won by non Dutch riders - and all of the previous winners will be on the start line today: Marianne Vos, Demi Vollering, Anna van der Breggen, Annemiek van Vleuten, Lucinda Brand, Amy Pieters, Ellen van Dijk, and Chantal van den Broek-Blaak. 

The Dutch aren't the only nation with a chance, however. The pressure is Lotte Kopecky at a home world championships but the Belgian is more than up to the task on a course that suits her well. 

Here's a look at 10 riders to watch including Coryn Rivera, and Emma Norsgaard.

The neutral start has been given as the riders roll out of Antwerp

The peloton will cover 8km of neutral before the official race start.

As we wait for the official race start here is the full startlist for today.

The start has been postponed slightly as Lizzie Deignan needs assistance from her team car

The flag has been dropped as the peloton emerge another picturesque tunnel 

157.7km to go

All together with 155km to go

Attack from Urska Bravek of Slovenia who already has a 10 second gap on the peloton

Problem for Diana Peñuela of Colombia 

Fernanda Yapura of Argentina has joined Bravek and the pair have a 20 second gap 

After a flurry of attacks the peloton are now all together 

142km to go

After the way the Olympic road race panned out it looks like the peloton are reluctant to let a big group go up the road 

The Dutch team have said that they have taken valuable lessons from that race.

The race is still all together

136km to go

After 25km of racing the peloton are all together and the pace is not high

Problem for Valeriya Kononenko of Ukraine

Another attack from Urska Bravek of Slovenia this time she took Nina Berton of Luxembourg with her and the pair have an 8 second gap

Bravek and Berton have already been reeled back in by the peloton 

It looks like teams are waiting until they hit the Leuven circuit in around 15km time before launching any big moves. 

115.4km to go

Defending champion Anna van der Breggen has dropped back to collect bottles for her teammates. Today will be her last race as a professional before she transitions into a directing role for SD Worx next year.

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The peloton are now approaching Leuven for the first of four times around this 15.5km circuit today - although this time the riders will only cover 1.5 before heading to the Flandrien Circuit.

Demi Vollering hits the front on the first time up the Wijnpers climb for the Dutch team

Team USA take up the front with Leah Thomas, the US team have promised 'aggressive' racing today.

A near miss for Annemiek van Vleuten who stays upright. Anna van der Breggen controls the front as her teammate finds her way back.

It's team GB upping the pace now with Joscelin Lowden riding with Pffeifer Georgi and Lizzie Deignan on her wheel.

97km to go

Lowden has really put the pressure on and the peloton are strung out after one lap of the Leuven circuit 

It's still Lowden of GB on the front as they head up the Decouxlaan climb. The Drops-Le Col rider will attempt to break the Hour Record next week. 

88km to go

There are a few splits after the first few climbs of the race but the bunch is still sizeable with 85km to go.

Teniel Campbell of Trinidad and Tobago has been distanced. 

Van der Breggen is back on the front and is talking to teammates Ellen van Dijk and Chantal van den Broek-Blaak 

Attack from Michaela Drummond of New Zealand who so far has a 10 second gap

There's no concerted chase behind and Drummond now has 27 seconds on the peloton

49 seconds for Drummond as the Belgian team move towards the front 

77km to go

The peloton are heading towards the Flandrien loop which consists of six short, steep climbs - will we see any of the favourites launch an attack? 

Drummond's advantage is coming down with team Poland and Great Britain riding on the front

23 seconds for the lone leader with the Belgian team riding hard for Lotte Kopecky 

Alice Barnes now takes up the chase for Great Britain. 21 seconds for Drummond

Drummond has been brought back as the peloton are just about to hit the Smeysberg climb which has a 8.8% average gradient.

Dropped chain for Demi Vollering on the Smeysberg but she's back on the bike and back in the peloton

Lisa Brennauer leads the bunch at the top of the Moskesstraat

More problems for Demi Vollering who is walking her bike up the climb as she waits for the team car

It's a slow wheel change for a visibly frustrated Vollering who now has a big chase on her hands

Anna van der Breggen is riding on the front with van Vleuten on her wheel. No sign of Demi Vollering yet.

The peloton are now on the Bekestraat climb - the fourth of six climbs on the Flandrien circuit and it's Lizzie Deignan and Alison Jackson setting the pace on the front.

Annemiek van Vleuten comes to the front and picks up the pace 

A split has formed over the top of the climb and world cyclocross champion Lucinda Brand continues the high pace at the front for the Netherlands

Crash for Megan Armitage of Ireland 

There are now two main groups with 10 seconds between them

The two groups are now back together. Vollering is back in  front.

Attack from Ashleigh Moolman Pasio of South Africa on the final climb on this circuit, the Smeysberg, with Kasia Niewiadoma of Poland following 

Moolman Pasio's attack has caused splits, most of the favourites are in the front group including Kopecky and Deignan

Lucinda Brand attacks for The Netherlands and strings out what is left of the group

47km to go

One of the pre-race favourites, Emma Norsgaard of Denmark, finds herself in the third group on the road 

The second group on the road has now joined the front 

The Dutch are firing off riders in quick succession now as Ellen van Dijk is the latest to attack.

After a slight lull in the pace Elise Chabbey of Switzerland attacks with Alena Amialiusik of Belarus on her wheel 

Now Anna Henderson of Great Britain puts in an attack and gets a small gap but Mavi Garcia of Spain brings her back. The group behind is still fairly big 

42km to go

Chantal ven den Broek-Blaak is the latest Dutch rider to go, taking Anna Henderson with her but the two are already brought back

The bunch are heading back towards the final 2.5 laps of the Leuven circuit now

Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig of Denmark and Sina Frei of Switzerland have a small gap

Kasia Niewiadoma closes the gap to Frei and Uttrup Ludwig 

A group of five including Annemiek van Vleuten (Netherlands), Mavi Garcia (Spain), Audrey Cordon Ragot(France), Tiffany Cromwell (Australia) have a small gap

35km to go

The second group containing Emma Norsgaard (Denmark), Niamh Fisher Black (New Zealand), and Anna van der Breggen (Netherlands) is 1:12 behind the front group

The riders are now re-entering the Leuven circuit

Brand is back on the front for the Netherlands over the top of the Sint Antoniusberg climb 

32km to go

Strong attack from Aude Biannic of France as they pass through the finish line 

There are 46 riders in the front group with 30km to go

Biannic has a 10 second advantage 

Attack from Ruth Winder (USA) from the group behind Biannic

Marlen Reusser of Switzerland counters

Reusser has a small gap, this is a dangerous move given her time trialling record 

Anna Henderson and Lucinda Brand are working to pull Reusser back 

Reusser catches Biannic on the Keizersberg but the group behind catches both riders

Ellen van Dijk is not lighting up the pace  at the front with Lotte Kopecky on her wheel 

25km to go

Mavi Garcia is the latest to make a move, the Spanish rider has a gap

Garcia has a 27 second gap and Bastianelli of Italy signals to her teammates to chase

Kasia Niewiadoma attacks on the Wijnpers climb 

Attack from van Vleuten over the top of the climb as Longo Borghini follows 

The attacks are eating into Garcia's advantage as the Spanish rider now has  just 14 seconds 

Garcia retains a 12 second gap with 18km to go with van Vleuten leading the chase behind 

Lizzie Deignan and Lotte Kopecky are notably absent from the front group 

Marianne Vos is in the first chasing group behind Garcia as is Marta Bastianelli of Italy

The two chasing groups have now merged as they approach the bell lap

Garcia has 16 seconds as she crosses the line for the penultimate time 

The bunch have Garcia in their sights now as Ellen van Dijk takes up the chase

Van Vleuten and van Dijk are sharing the work on the front and it's looking like the Dutch are all in for Marianne Vos.

After her earlier efforts, Marlen Reusser is distanced from the front group.

Garcia still has a five second advantage, van Dijk is having to work hard to pull her back

Garcia has been caught on the Keizersberg 

10.4km to go

Demi Vollering moves up towards the front to set the pace for the Netherlands

The Netherlands have 7 riders in this front group, Italy have 5, Belgium, Great Britain, Poland, Switzerland, the USA and Canada have two, Australia, Belarus, Cuba, Denmark, Luxembourg, Germany, and Slovenia have one. 

Rachel Neylan of Australia attacks but Annemiek van Vleuten neutralises

With 7km van Vleuten is back on the front and stringing out the group behind as they approach the Wijnpers climb for the final time 

Huge attack from Ellen van Dijk up the Wijnpers climb 

Niewiadoma goes over the top of van Dijk with Marianne Vos and Longo Borghini 

The group have been joined by Alison Jackson and Ellen van Dijk

Fast-finishing Cuban rider Arlenis Sierra has bridged 

4.9km to go

Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig brings the group back together 

Another attack from Annemiek van Vleuten who takes  Blanka Vas of Hungary and Marta Bastianelli of Italy with her 

The Dutch are really using their numbers, Ellen van Dijk goes again with Niewiadoma and Maria Giuila Confalonieri of Italy with her but van Vleuten pulls the trio back 

The group are back together, it looks like we're heading for a sprint as van Vleuten sits on the front up the Sint Antoniusberg but Niewiadoma attacks 

2km to go

Van Dijk and Confalonieri follow again

Demi Vollering closes it down and the group is all together as they go under the flamme rouge 

It's Balsamo vs Vos going into the finish after a lead out from Elisa Longo Borghini

Italian rider Elisa Balsamo out-sprints Marianne Vos to become the new world champion!

LEUVEN BELGIUM SEPTEMBER 23 LR Barbara Guarischi of Italy Elisa Longo Borghini of Italy Elisa Balsamo and teammates during the 94th UCI Road World Championships 2021 Training flanders2021 on September 23 2021 in Leuven Belgium Photo by Luc ClaessenGetty Images

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Top-10:

1. Elisa Balsamo (Italy)

2. Marianne Vos (Netherlands)

3. Kasia Niewiadoma (Poland) 

4. Kata Blanka Vas (Hungary)

5. Arlenis Sierra (Cuba)

6. Alison Jackson (Canada)

7. Demi Vollering (Netherlands)

8. Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig (Denmark)

9. Lisa Brennauer (Germany)

10. Coryn Rivera (USA)

A tearful Balsamo in a post-race interview: 

"I'm totally speechless, I have no words to describe this feeling. It's unbelievable." 

"I didn't know, it was a dream for me, after this long season and my team was so good. Without them this jersey wasn't possible so my team were so good."

"My team made a perfect lead out, I really believed in them and after the last corner I only switch off my brain and say 'you have to go full gas.'" 

"I think that I need some days to realise today... it's a dream." 

Italys Elisa Balsamo R celebrates as she crosses the finish line to win ahead of secondplaced Netherlands Marianne Vos during the womens elite cycling road race 1577km from Antwerp to Leuven on the seventh day of the Flanders 2021 UCI Road World Championships on September 25 2021 in Leuven Photo by KENZO TRIBOUILLARD AFP Photo by KENZO TRIBOUILLARDAFP via Getty Images

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Elisa Longo Borghini 

"It's really nice when your tactic really happens and you believe in what you are here for. I knew that I had to close all the gaps, I felt really well today and I also had to be the last one launching Elisa for the sprint, I knew I had to try to get her as close as possible to the finish line. From the beginning of the day I felt like Elisa could win so when you believe in something and you really work for it, most of the time it happens." 

"We expected The Netherlands to be a bit more aggressive in the Flandrien circuit and I was up there to control the race and to follow attacks but yeah it was kind of controlled and the last two loops were like a big crit with a nice jersey as a prize."

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