The first World Cup of the season is always a good one, and with Varese province full of rain and hills, Trofeo Alfredo Binda was one for the tough riders.
The early parts of the race were dominated by Diadora-Pasta Zara, with Claudia Häusler winning the sprint points. It was always going to be a race of attrition, with the wet roads causing a number of crashes, and by the climb at Grantola, there were only 50 riders in the main group. The first big attacks came from Diadora-Pasta Zara's Olga Zabelinskaya and Garmin-Cervélo's Sharon Laws, two riders who were never going to be allowed to escape. This has been a classic Cervélo tactic, sending Laws out early, so the peloton has to spend precious energy chasing her down - and by the time they were caught, only 37 riders were in contention.
Emma Pooley surprised us with one of her classic jumps less than half-way through the race - we always expect her to do it, but not necessarily that early, but she made lots of early efforts, before the important one -
making her move classic-Pooley style on the climb EDIT! Not on the climb, Stef W saw it on tv and said it was on the flat for once - in which case, that's even more impressive! , and despite the very strong group shedding riders as it chased her down, her lead reached three minutes, and she solo-ed for over 60km to take the win. While riders were being pulled off the road at the back, various riders tried to escape from the chase group, and towards the end of the race, Ruth Corset, Loes Gunnewijk and Christel Ferrier-Bruneau attacked hard - but they were swallowed up in the final kilometres, and the group of 25 sprinted for the podium and the valuable World Cup points.
1. Emma Pooley (GBR) Garmin-Cervélo, 3:08:17
2. Emma Johansson (Swe) Hitec UCK, + 1:32
3. Annemiek van Vleuten (Ned) Netherlands, s.t.
4. Martine Bras (Ned) Dolmans Landscaping, s.t.
5. Shelley Olds (USA) Diadora-Pasta Zara, s.t.
6. Chantal Blaak (Ned) AA Drink-Leontien.nl, s.t.
7. Judith Arndt (Ger) HTC-Highroad, s.t.
8. Grace Verbeke (Bel) Belgium, + 0:01
9. Pauline Ferrand-Prevot (Fra) France, s.t.
10. Lucinda Brand (Ned) Netherlands, s.t.
It was a classic Pooley win, repeating her 2008 victory, and a great start to the World Cup. This is a great race for coverage, so watch the comments for video, photos, blogs etc that we'll find over the coming week - if you find anything fun, please, please add it in! And follow me below the jump for info on the other women's race of the day!
Holland Hills, aka Parkhotel Rooding Hills Classic, aka Valkenberg, was never going to have as strong a field as Binda, but it still had all the members of Nederland Bloeit and AA Drink-Leontien.nl who weren't riding in the Netherlands National Team in Italy.... and the biggest name in women's cycling, Marianne Vos.
We weren't sure how well Vos would do - after all, she's been focusing on the Track World Championships, and last night had won the gold medal in the scratch race in fine style. Not necessarily the best preparation for the road, we thought... but oh, how we were proved wrong! Vos was in an early break with team-mate Marieke van Wanroij, Garmin-Cervélo rider Jessie Daams and Café favourite Marijn de Vries, that at one point gained seven minutes on the peloton - and ended up solo-ing home for victory. It wasn't the deepest field - and it's NOT a wvds race - but still, this is a hard course - including twice over the Cauberg - and not one that track prepares you for. But Vos, now with two rainbow jerseys in two different disciplines in 2011, is a very special rider - and although she's missed the first race, will definitely have her eye on the Road World Cup!
1. Marianne Vos (Ned) Nederland Bloeit, 03:04:28
2. Marieke van Wanroij (Ned) Nederland Bloeit) + 02:46
3. Jessie Daams (Bel), s.t.
4. Marijn de Vries (Ned) AA Drink-Leontien.nl, s.t.
5. Amy Pieters (Ned) Skil-Koga, 04:55
6. Alison Testroete (Swi) Skil-Koga, s.t.
7. Sarah Düster (Ger) Nederland Bloeit, 05:55
8. Emma Crum (NZl) Specialized-DPD Pakket Service, s.t.
9. Esther Oltius (Ned) DWV De Zwaluwen, + 07:55
10. Patricia Schwager (Swi) Nederland Bloeit, + 11:05
EDIT!! Although the official results are being given out as Marijn de Vries finishing with Pieters, she says on twitter that she was beaten in the sprint for 2nd & 3rd, and finished with Van Wanroij and Daams. I think I'll believe her!
There's bound to be bloggage about this race - again, anything you find, add it in!
Full results from Binda are here - and you can see more of how it unfolded from the open thread - and full results from Holland Hills via wielerland. Plus see whether Jens was right in his World Cup PowerPoll!