World Championships: Marianne Vos makes successful defence with late solo attack
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Saturday, September 28, 2013

World Championships: Marianne Vos makes successful defence with late solo attack

by Ben Atkins at 12:17 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Race Reports and Results, World Championships
Dutchwoman escapes the favourites on Via Salviani in tactical, attritional encounter

marianne vos

Marianne Vos of the Netherlands lived up to her favourite tag as she took her second straight victory in the Elite Women’s World Championship road race in Florence, Italy. The 26-year-old tore herself clear of a select, eight rider group on the final, short, steep climb of Via Salviani with five kilometres to go, and managed to hold off a two-rider chase all the way to the finish.

Behind Vos, World number one Emma Johansson of Sweden was chasing hard with Italy’s Rossella Ratto. With Ratto able to do little to help the Swedish rider, however, the five second gap over the top of the climb had widened to 15 seconds by the time Johansson took the sprint for silver.

“Winning the second Championship in the row was hard, much harder than last year, especially because the Italians made our race really tough,” said Vos afterwards. “At the beginning of the last lap, I already knew I was going to attack in Via Salviati and not in Fiesole.

“I really didn’t want to lose my rainbow jersey after racing one year with it,” the World champion added. “Anna Van Der Breggen’s help was fundamental in this race.”

A fast initial section leads to an attritional first circuit

The race stayed together on the flat, 57.2km leg from the start in Montecatini Terme as a high speed prevented any attacks.

Most of the big teams were contributing at least one rider to the brisk pace at the front, which meant that nobody felt able to try to escape in the first hour. Brazil’s Clemilda Fernandes, Switzerland’s Doris Schweizer, Lithuania’s Katazyna Sosna and France’s Audrey Cordon all, separately, tried to break clear, but were both quickly closed down by the attentive teams at the head of the peloton.

The United States led the peloton through the cobbled streets ahead of the peloton, with Carmen Small escorting Specialized-lululemon teammate Evie Stevens. US champion Jade Wilcoxson then led the bunch towards the finishing circuit, before handing over to Small again who was first to start the first lap of the hilly 16.5km circuit.

The United States continued to lead the peloton onto the Fiesole climb for the first time, which had the effect of dropping several riders out the back one by one.

Italy’s Valentina Scandolara tried to force her way to the front, with South African Ashleigh Moolman on her wheel, but the US refused to yield control. The Russian team did managed to take over close to the top, however, but Stevens led over the top for the USA.

The front group was now down to just 41 riders, with a few stragglers trying to rejoin a few seconds back.

Germany’s Trixi Worrack then strung the bunch out on the twisting descent, but the speed dropped as they reached the bottom and allowed Schweizer to break clear again. This time the Swiss rider was able to get clear, and was quickly joined by Belgium’s Liesbet De Vocht.

The duo hit the foot of the Via Salviati climb 13 seconds ahead of the bunch, the front of which was now dominated by the presence of several Italians. The lead was just three seconds by the time the two leaders crossed the top, and Scandolara soon brought the bunch across to them.

Polspoel kicks off the attacks as the bunch continues to shrink

Following the short descent, Belgian Maaike Polspoel jumped away in the final kilometres of the lap, and was 14 seconds ahead as she crossed the finish line. The Belgian was hunted down by the US team, however, and was caught before she could get halfway up the climb to Fiesole.

The Netherlands took the peloton into the descent, stringing the bunch out even further. Australia’s Tiffany Cromwell forced a trio clear, with the Netherlands’ Lucinda Brand and Italy’s Elisa Longo Borghini, but they were soon closed down by Russia as they approached Via Salviati.

Scandolara and Schweizer then tried to escape, but what was left of the peloton was on their heels as the climb began. Scandolara continued to lead the bunch all the way up the short, sharp climb, cutting the front group to just 33 riders.

The United States moved up in numbers once again, with Andrea Dvorak and Megan Guarnier taking control at the front. The pace dropped again, however, as riders took the opportunity to take on some food, and the peloton’s number swelled to 43 as it arrived at the finish again.

The next group of riders was almost two minutes behind, with little chance of finding its way back up to the front of the race again. Dvorak led the United States team onto the Fiesole climb again, but the pace was such that few riders were struggling at the back this time.

The Italians and Russians moved up to lift the pace as it neared the top, and Italy’s Francesca Cauz attacked. Australia’s Carlee Taylor brought the bunch across to the 21-year-old, but Cauz kicked again close to the summit.

Taylor was on the Italian’s wheel, with most of the bunch behind her, and the pace settled down again. Cauz went for a third time as they approached the summit, with Netherlands champion Lucinda Brand following, but Taylor pulled the bunch up to them before they could reach the top.

Brand then attacked the descent, managing to get a few seconds clear, and was joined by fast-descending Australian Tiffany Cromwell.

Italy’s Rossella Ratto was leading the chase, with Maja Wloszczowska of Poland on her wheel, but eased up as they approached Via Salviati.

Katarzyna Niewiadoma of Poland had attacked from the bunch, and was about to make contact with the two leaders, but slid off into the barriers on the final sharp corner at the bottom of the climb. Jolanda Neff of Switzerland was unable to avoid the remounting Polish rider as the bunch rounded the corner, while several other riders found themselves delayed.

The two breakaway riders were caught before the top of the climb, but Brand attacked again with Ratto in her wheel. The new duo were 15 seconds clear as they neared the end of the lap, but the lead was down to 11 seconds as Guarnier led the 27-strong chase behind them.

The United States’ Giro d’Italia champion Mara Abbott took up the chase onto the Fiesole climb but, as she caught the two leaders Germany’s Worrack attacked. Brand and Ratto followed, but the group reformed behind them as they approached the top.

Tatiana Antoshina provokes the decisive moves as the selection is made

Russia’s Tatiana Antoshina then attacked, and was quickly a few seconds clear. Cauz attacked out of the bunch behind her, managing to join her quickly. As the Netherlands Anna van der Breggen moved across to them, they both faded as several riders swarmed past.

Van der Breggen continued her pace, with the United States’ Evie Stevens on her wheel. Behind them, a highly select group was forming with Johansson, Ratto, Longo Borghini and Guderzo of Italy, and Vos.

Antoshina was fighting her way across as the summit approached, with Cromwell struggling to close the gap behind her. Germany’s Claudia Häusler and New Zealand’s Linda Villumsen were next on the road, but faced a 20 second gap to close on the descent that was to follow.

The pace was kept high by van der Breggen on the way down the other side, but Cromwell managed to fight her way across. Guderzo then hit the front, keeping the pace high and holding off trade teammate Antoshina. Ratto then tore herself clear on the approach to Via Salviati and, as she was chased down, Longo Borghini took her turn.

This time it was Vos herself that got the Italian under control, and the eight riders were all together as they hit the climb.

Antoshina was still a few seconds back, with Villumsen and Häusler not far behind her. As Ratto upped the pace to the top, however, Cromwell lost contact with the leaders, and Longo Borghini attacked the descent again.

The group eased up on the descent, as the big names of the race looked across the road to one another, while Häusler and Antoshina fought to close the gap. Cromwell attacked on the way into the final kilometres, and Longo Borghini led the group across; the acceleration briefly put Guderzo and Stevens into difficulty.

Having recovered, Guderzo put in a small attack, but was easily covered by van der Breggen, and the eight of them cruised over the line to start the final lap. Häusler, Antoshina and Villumsen were just nine seconds behind as they took the bell, and they joined the group as it approached the Fiesole climb.

Van der Breggen continued to lead as the climb began, but Vos took over shortly afterwards. All eleven riders were calmly looking at one another, until Antoshina hit the front and began to lift the pace again.

Meanwhile, with the pace up front dropping, Russia’s Elena Kuchinskaya and France’s Pauline Ferrand-Prevot were riding through the team cars and were soon to take the group’s number up to 13. Kuchinskaya went straight to the front, but was soon overtaken by an attack from Guderzo. Vos was straight on the former champion’s wheel, but Longo Borghini then countered; the Trofeo Binda winner was followed by van der Breggen and Johansson, but the rest of the group wasn’t far behind.

Italy has the numbers but the Netherlands has the control

Cromwell then jumped away, with van der Breggen following her, which forced Ratto to chase the duo down. Häusler was beginning to struggle in holding the pace, and managed to fight her way back up to the back of the group just as Guderzo went again. This saw Kuchinskaya and Häusler both dropped, with Cromwell soon following them out the back.

Longo Borghini then hit the front as they neared the top, with Vos pouncing on her immediately, then Stevens went herself. Van der Breggen was quickly onto the American’s wheel, with Ratto, Vos and Johansson with her. The five riders were clear over the top, with Longo Borghini, Guderzo and Villumsen 15 seconds behind.

Ratto led down the descent, with Vos right on her wheel and the others lined up behind. The three chasers were fighting to get across the gap again, but Vos had hit the front and keeping the leading group’s pace too high for them to get across.

Just as the final climb of Via Salviati arrived, the three chasers rejoined the front group, and Ratto immediately hit the front as it began. Stevens put the fist big attack in, which quickly dropped the three that had just made it back on and, as the five remaining riders hit the steepest part, Vos put in a devastating attack and left them all behind.

Over the top the reigning champion was five seconds clear of Johansson and Ratto, with Stevens and van der Breggen 17 seconds behind.

Ratto and Johansson refused to yield to the Dutchwoman, but were struggling to close the gap on the fast descent. Sprinting up the final small incline, Vos looked over her shoulder to see Johansson putting everything into her own efforts. Ratto seemed unable to contribute, however, forcing the Swedish rider to do the majority of the work.

Vos was in sight as they pulled onto the final, straight kilometre and a half, but the Dutchwoman was pulling clear as Johansson’s attention turned to the non-contributing Italian on her wheel.

This made no difference to Vos, however, who continued to sprint through the final kilometre. Sitting up with 200 metres to go, the 26-year-old sat up and began to celebrate her victory, emotionally crossing the line to take her third road title, and her second in a row.

Johansson had managed to manoeuvre Ratto to the front, then powered ahead of the Italian to take the silver medal 15 seconds back. Van der Breggen crossed the line, 33 seconds back in fourth place - just as she had in sixth place the previous year - punching the air in celebration of a job well done.

1. Marianne Vos (Netherlands)
2. Emma Johansson (Sweden) @ 15s
3. Rossella Ratto (Italy)
4. Anna van der Breggen (Netherlands) @ 33s
5. Evelyn Stevens (United States) @ 46s
6. Linda Villumsen (New Zealand) @ 50s
7. Tatiana Guderzo (Ita) @ 52s
8. Elisa Longo Borghini (Italy)
9. Tiffany Cromwell (Australia) @ 1’40”
10. Tatiana Antoshina (Russia)


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