Annemiek van Vleuten cashed in on her dented but not defeated hopes of Rainbow glory, winning her second road race world championship in Wollongong, NSW, just days after fracturing her elbow in a fall. The presumed favorite was forced into a lesser role by her injury, but mustered a blistering attack in the final kilometer of the race to stun the elite field who thought that both van Vleuten and the powerful Netherlands squad had been shunted aside for the day. As the five-rider lead group was caught by eight chasers coming off the last climb of Mount Pleasant on the local circuit, numerous riders seemed to be lining up for the sprint. But shortly after coming under the 1km banner, it was the lurking van Vleuten who took one long stab at glory... and made it stick.
Prior to then, the story of the race had been the five-rider break that got away twice — with the same riders — in the last two laps, each time thanks to the inside-out efforts of Poland’s Kasia Niewiadoma and Germany’s Liane Lippert. They were joined by Elisa Longo Borghini of Italy, Ashleigh Moolman Pasio of South Africa, and Cecile Uttrup Ludwig of Denmark, who seemed content to get away in this group and see who had the most in a sprint.
But an 8-rider group containing sprinter Lotte Kopecky of Belgium was closing in, and the five in front couldn’t hold them off. The group had been brought up largely by the Netherlands, who had time trial World Champion Ellen van Dijk on the front of the chase group, presumably hoping Marianne Vos could contest the sprint. Instead it was van Vleuten who felt up for it, ever so briefly looking again like the massive favorite she would have been if healthy. As she took off for the line, van Vleuten managed to only gain a handful of seconds, but she made them stick and snuck over the line a single second ahead of Kopecky and Silvia Persico of Italy.
Niahm Fisher-Black (NZL) was the top-placed U23 rider and was anointed that title ahead of Pfeiffer Georgi (GB) and Ricarda Bauernfeind (GER) in that category, selected from finishers of the Elite race.
Click HERE for full results
Junior RR 67.2 km (4 laps) / Elite RR 164.3 km
Juniors stay on the city circuit, elites add the loop including Mount Keira which adds a wrinkle and some serious climbing.
Flying Doctors of the Day : Zoe Bä(a?)ckstedt & Marianne Vos
Junior phenomenon + Senior phenomenon. 100% prediction.