Women’s World championship preview: Bronzini returns to defend against favourite Vos
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Friday, September 23, 2011

Women’s World championship preview: Bronzini returns to defend against favourite Vos

by Ben Atkins at 4:35 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, World Championships
 
World number one out to exorcise the demon of four successive silver medals

giorgia bronziniSaturday’s elite women’s World championship road race will take place over ten laps of the same 14km circuit as used by the junior women and under-23 men. The course is widely regarded as the flattest since Zolder, Belgium, in 2002, and is almost universally predicted to finish in a sprint. With the unpredictability of the women’s peloton though, anything could happen in the 140km race.

Defending champion Giorgia Bronzini leads the usually powerful Italian team that also includes 2009 champion Tatiana Guderzo, and 2009 double-medallist Noemi Cantele. Like the men’s team, the Italian women have got team unity into a fine art, winning three of the last four titles, through Marta Bastianelli, Guderzo and Bronzini.

Although Bronzini has not had many victories this season, the 28-year-old has taken a string of podium places in recent weeks, proving that she’s ready for a sprint on Saturday.

The Netherlands Marianne Vos would be the favourite over virtually any terrain, with her victories in bunch sprints and mountains in July’s Giro d’Italia testament to that. At still only 24 years old, the World number one has never finished worse than second place in her five appearances in the elite World championships, but the four consecutive silver medals have been of little consolation after that first gold in 2006.

In previous races Vos has fallen victim to the teamwork of the stronger teams, particularly the Italians, but this time around she has the team to match any other.

Alongside Vos will be Annemiek van Vleuten, who has become so much more than just a lieutenant to her Nederland Bloeit team leader, as her World Cup victory proves. In Geelong last year a late puncture put van Vleuten out of the picture and Vos was isolated again but, with a little more luck, the two of them should be together at the finish.

Should Vos have any problems on the way to the finish, the Netherlands also has super-sprinter Kirsten Wild to fall back on.

The Germans dominated the recent Giro della Toscana, with HTC-Highroad pair Ina Teutenberg and Judith Arndt taking two stages each, and Trixi Worrack and Charlotte Becker taking one each. Teutenberg is likely the only sprinter in the world who can challenge Vos and, having won the time trial championship on Tuesday, there is nothing Arndt would like more than to deliver her friend and teammate the road title, much as she did at the German championships earlier in the year.

Great Britain will start the race with three captains, with 2010 World time trial champion Emma Pooley, 2008 champion Nicole Cooke and British champion Lizzie Armitstead. The Copenhagen finishing straight is not unlike that of Varese, where Cooke took her title, even though the course itself is much flatter, but the team’s designated sprinter will be the slightly faster Armitstead.

Pooley will undoubtedly be relied upon for one of her usual long solo attacks, and Cooke will likely be looking for late moves, but the team will be united behind the 22-year-old British champion.

Sweden’s Emma Johansson, the 2010 bronze medallist, will undoubtedly be there at the finish, whether the race goes to a sprint or a breakaway. Australia and the USA both possess strong sprinters in Chloe Hosking and Rochelle Gilmore, and Shelley Olds and Theresa Cliff-Ryan respectively. While never one to be discounted at the head of a strong Lithuania team will be Rasa Leleivyte.

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