Ellen van Dijk (Netherlands) soloed to a remarkable victory in the women's road race at the European Championships in Trento, Italy, completing a near-perfect week following her silver medal in the time-trial on Thursday.
Once a world champion in the individual time-trial and four times a European champion in the same discipline, Van Dijk drew upon all this experience to measure her effort expertly after attacking the breakaway on the penultimate ascent of the Povo Climb, 26km from the finish.
As Van Dijk attacked from the breakaway, Liane Lippert (Germany) attacked from the peloton drawing out a select group of favourites. Though this group reduced Van Dijk's advantage to as little as ten seconds on the Povo climb, Van Dijk was able to rebuild her lead on the descent and flatter sections of the circuit, with her Netherlands teammates helping slow the chase.
In the sprint for the podium places, Lippert took the silver medal, a just reward for her endeavours, while Rasa Leleivyte (Lithuania) finished in third.
How it unfolded
The sixth edition of the women’s road race at the European Championships took place on a 13.2km circuit that began in Trento’s Piazza Duomo.
Circling the town and skirting the mountains that loom over the landscape there, the circuit was tackled eight times. The Povo climb - a 3.6km ascent at 4.7 per cent - provided the primary obstacle on this course and, indeed, each time the peloton tackled these slopes it became a little smaller as riders were fired out the back of the group.
Though the start was delayed due to an ambulance on the circuit to treat a local resident, once the racing had started it was fast and frantic.
As ever, the Dutch were the favourites for contained within their ranks were three former European champions — Marianne Vos, Amy Pieters and Annemiek van Vleuten. Accordingly, they, through Riejanne Markus, policed the front of the peloton, to prevent the formation of a breakaway before the first ascent of the Povo climb.
Starkly illustrating the difficulty of this climb, 25 riders slipped out of contention on this first ascent, unable to maintain the pace. On the next lap, the action took place at the front of the peloton rather than the back as various attacks sought to form a breakaway but still no group could escape the peloton’s clutches.
Finally, on the descent, Audrey Cordon-Ragot (France) launched the first of several French attacks, and though she was chased down by Belgium and the Netherlands, her teammate Eugénie Duval immediately countered. Duval was joined by Tanja Erath (Germany) but Markus was once more posted to the front of the peloton and contained the danger that this pair posed.
Replicating the tactic she had employed on the previous lap, Cordon-Ragot attacked again with 80km to go. This time she was able to prise open a 20 second gap but was reabsorbed into the peloton shortly afterwards.
Fifteen kilometres later the day’s breakaway formed, composed of representatives from four of the strongest nations present: Van Dijk, Aude Biannic (France), Soraya Paladin (Italy) and Romy Kasper (Germany). They created a gap of almost a minute over the next ten kilometres.
This leading quartet became a trio, however, as Biannic was dropped on the slopes of the Povo climb, 48km from the finish. Simultaneously, Marianne Vos (Netherlands) was surprisingly distanced from the peloton, perhaps suffering in the heat.
In a display of their complex tactics and the multitudinous options available to them, the Netherlands led the chase despite Van Dijk’s presence in the breakaway. Belgium, who had no representation in this move, were content to follow in their wake.
The following ascent of the Povo Climb further diminished the firepower within the breakaway as Kasper was dropped, 35km from the finish, and as soon as she re-entered the peloton, the German team moved to the front to control the race. As a result of their efforts, combined with those of the Belgian team, the time gap began to fall a little.
With only Paladin for company, Van Dijk attacked on the flat section of the course but was unable to shake the attentions of the Italian. Showing the true extent of her form, Van Dijk accelerated again on the Povo climb 23km from the finish and was finally able to distance the talented Italian climber.
Forty seconds behind, meanwhile, a blistering attack by Liane Lippert (Germany) on the penultimate ascent of the Povo obliterated both the remnants of the peloton and the advantage that Van Dijk had built up.
Lippert pulled away a select group comprised mainly of the pre-race favourites as Marlen Reusser (Switzerland), Annemiek van Vleuten (Netherlands), Elisa Longo Borghini (Italy), Alena Amialiusik (Belarus), Marta Cavalli (Italy), Rasa Leleivyte (Lithuania), Kasia Niewiadoma (Poland) and Demi Vollering (Netherlands) were all present. Once the initial acceleration had passed, however, the pace dissipated from this group and the time gap to Van Dijk expanded back to a minute again.
With Paladin dropped, the chase fell to Italy who had two riders in this group and Longo Borghini sacrificed herself for her younger teammate Cavalli, peeling off, exhausted, ten kilometres from the finish.
On the steepest section of the last climb, Lippert attacked again, and the resulting acceleration more than halved the time gap to Van Dijk, who clung to just twenty seconds at the summit of the climb.
Once the climbing had finished, though, the course favoured Van Dijk due to her time-trialling abilities and the lack of cohesion within the chase group played into her favour..
As on the previous lap, her advantage ballooned to around a minute again as she rode to the finish in central Trento, and she eventually sealed victory by 1:18, celebrating happily after completing one of her best victories of her prestigious career.
|Pos.||Rider Name (Country) Team||Result|
|1||Ellen van Dijk (Netherlands)||2:50:35|
|2||Liane Lippert (Germany)||0:01:18|
|3||Rasa Leleivyte (Lithuania)|
|4||Katarzyna Niewiadoma (Poland)|
|5||Demi Vollering (Netherlands)|
|6||Marta Cavalli (Italy)|
|7||Marlen Reusser (Switzerland)|
|8||Alena Amialiusik (Belarus)|
|9||Annemiek van Vleuten (Netherlands)||0:01:21|
|10||Elisa Balsamo (Italy)||0:02:29|
|11||Lisa Brennauer (Germany)|
|12||Floortje Mackaij (Netherlands)|
|13||Eugenia Bujak (Slovenia)|
|14||Lotte Kopecky (Belgium)|
|15||Elise Chabbey (Switzerland)|
|16||Amy Pieters (Netherlands)|
|17||Riejanne Markus (Netherlands)|
|18||Juliette Labous (France)|
|19||Eider Merino Cortazar (Spain)|
|20||Kathrin Hammes (Germany)|
|21||Omer Shapira (Israel)|
|22||Katrine Aalerud (Norway)|
|23||Urška Žigart (Slovenia)|
|24||Erica Magnaldi (Italy)||0:02:44|
|25||Marta Lach (Poland)||0:04:19|
|26||Victorie Guilman (France)|
|27||Tamara Dronova (Russian Federation)|
|28||Hanna Nilsson (Sweden)||0:04:21|
|29||Mie Bjørndal Ottestad (Norway)||0:05:58|
|30||Corinna Lechner (Germany)||0:06:32|
|31||Susanne Andersen (Norway)|
|32||Elisa Longo Borghini (Italy)||0:07:10|
|DNF||Chantal van den Broek-Blaak (Netherlands)|
|DNF||Marianne Vos (Netherlands)|
|DNF||Sofia Bertizzolo (Italy)|
|DNF||Tatiana Guderzo (Italy)|
|DNF||Soraya Paladin (Italy)|
|DNF||Debora Silvestri (Italy)|
|DNF||Trine Holmsgaard (Denmark)|
|DNF||Marita Jensen (Denmark)|
|DNF||Pernille Mathiesen (Denmark)|
|DNF||Tanja Erath (Germany)|
|DNF||Romy Kasper (Germany)|
|DNF||Lisa Klein (Germany)|
|DNF||Trixi Worrack (Germany)|
|DNF||Valerie Demey (Belgium)|
|DNF||Ann-Sophie Duyck (Belgium)|
|DNF||Lone Meertens (Belgium)|
|DNF||Sara van de Vel (Belgium)|
|DNF||Julie van de Velde (Belgium)|
|DNF||Fien van Eynde (Belgium)|
|DNF||Jesse Vandenbulcke (Belgium)|
|DNF||Malgorzata Jasinska (Poland)|
|DNF||Karolina Karasiewicz (Poland)|
|DNF||Aurela Nerlo (Poland)|
|DNF||Anna Plichta (Poland)|
|DNF||Dorota Przezak (Poland)|
|DNF||Aude Biannic (France)|
|DNF||Audrey Cordon Ragot (France)|
|DNF||Eugénie Duval (France)|
|DNF||Gladys Verhulst (France)|
|DNF||Morgane Coston (France)|
|DNF||Caroline Baur (Switzerland)|
|DNF||Sandra Alonso Dominguez (Spain)|
|DNF||Ziortza Isasi Cristobal (Spain)|
|DNF||Eukene Larrarte Arteaga (Spain)|
|DNF||Irene Mendez Melgarejo (Spain)|
|DNF||Lourdes Oyarbide Jimenez (Spain)|
|DNF||Gloria Rodriguez Sanchez (Spain)|
|DNF||Ingvild Gåskjenn (Norway)|
|DNF||Ingrid Lorvik (Norway)|
|DNF||Tatiana Antoshina (Russian Federation)|
|DNF||Anastasiia Chursina (Russian Federation)|
|DNF||Seda Krylova (Russian Federation)|
|DNF||Margarita Syradoeva (Russian Federation)|
|DNF||Sarah Rijkes (Austria)|
|DNF||Christina Schweinberger (Austria)|
|DNF||Angelika Tazreiter (Austria)|
|DNF||Nathalie Eklund (Sweden)|
|DNF||Urska Bravec (Slovenia)|
|DNF||Yuliia Biriukova (Ukraine)|
|DNF||Valeriya Kononenko (Ukraine)|
|DNF||Olena Sharga (Ukraine)|
|DNF||Olga Shekel (Ukraine)|
|DNF||Ganna Solovei (Ukraine)|
|DNF||Olivija Baleišyte (Lithuania)|
|DNF||Inga Ešulien (Lithuania)|
|DNF||Viktorija Senkut (Lithuania)|
|DNF||Nikola Noskova (Czech Republic)|
|DNF||Rotem Gafinovitz (Israel)|
|DNF||Lija Laizane (Latvia)|
|DNF||Tereza Medvedova (Slovakia)|
|DNF||Megan Armitage (Ireland)|
|DNF||Ellen McDermott (Ireland)|
|DNF||Silja Jóhannesdóttir (Iceland)|
|DNF||Hafdís Sigurðardóttir (Iceland)|
|DNF||Manuela Muresan (Romania)|
|DNF||Georgeta Ungureanu (Romania)|
|DNF||Varvara Fasoi (Greece)|
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Issy Ronald has just graduated from the London School of Economics where she studied for an undergraduate and masters degree in History and International Relations. Since doing an internship at Procycling magazine, she has written reports for races like the Tour of Britain, Bretagne Classic and World Championships, as well as news items, recaps of the general classification at the Grand Tours and some features for Cyclingnews. Away from cycling, she enjoys reading, attempting to bake, going to the theatre and watching a probably unhealthy amount of live sport.
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