2017 Worlds: Blaak solos to world title, as Dutch team shows dominance

Chantal Blaak (Netherlands) soloed to the elite women's UCI world road championship. Katrin Garfoot (Australia) earned silver and Amalie Dideriksen (Denmark) earned bronze.

The powerhouse Dutch elite women’s squad met expectations on Saturday, as Chantal Blaak soloed away from a select group in the final kilometers to capture the 2017 UCI Elite Women’s World Road Championship on Saturday in Bergen, Norway

“No, I can’t believe it, everything happened in the race: I crashed, I was in a lot of pain, in that moment I thought my race was over,” said Blaak about her crash with around 65km to ride. “(Then) I thought I can come back and see what I can do. The plan was not that I should win race but do my best possible for the team.

“After that (attack) I just followed my heart and stayed away.”

Many chase groups came together in the final kilometer behind Blaak and Katrin Garfoot (Australia) was quickest in the reduced bunch sprint, capturing the silver medal. Last year’s world champion Amalie Dideriksen (Denmark) finished third, earning the bronze medal.

Top 10

  • 1. Chantal Blaak (Netherlands), in 4:06:30
  • 2. Katrin Garfoot (Australia), at +00:28
  • 3. Amalie Dideriksen (Denmark), at +00:28
  • 4. Annemiek Van Vleuten (Netherlands), at +00:28
  • 5. Katarzyna Niewiadoma (Poland), at +00:28
  • 6. Christine Majerus (Luxembourg), at +00:28
  • 7. Susanne Andersen (Norway), at +00:28
  • 8. Anna Van Der Breggen (Netherlands), at +00:28
  • 9. Emilia Fahlin (Sweden), at +00:28
  • 10. Elena Cecchini (Italy), at +00:28

The elite women’s peloton tackled eight laps of the 19.1-kilometer circuit in Bergen, Norway at the 2017 UCI Road World Championships. The 152.8km race began under bright sunny skies, which has been a rarity at this year’s world championships.

The race got off to a rocky start with a crash occurring in the tunnel on the circuit a mere 90 seconds into the race. All riders would get up and eventually rejoin the peloton. Some riders had damaged their bikes and were forced to wait a considerable time to get new ones.

Sara Penton (Sweden) attacked three-quarters of the way into the opening lap, but no one else joined her. A lap later Melissa Lowther of Great Britain joined the Swede. The peloton was calmly rolling along a minute behind the leaders.

At the end of the third lap, the peloton was all together, but the tension was rising. The Dutch team had sent Lucinda Brand on the attack toward the end of the lap and although the move didn’t go anywhere, everyone was now on high alert. The Dutch had been doing most of the pace making at the front of the peloton, but now they had shown they weren’t afraid to be aggressive.

On the fifth lap with 69km remaining, a trio of riders escaped the peloton’s grasp and the group had firepower. The three riders were Hannah Barnes (Great Britain), Amy Pieters (Netherlands), and Rachel Neylan (Australia).

A few kilometers later with 66km remaining, American Megan Guarnier crashed hard. She was tended to on the ground for many minutes and was forced to abandon the race. Blaak also went down, along with a few other riders.

Team USA sent Tayler Wiles and Ruth Winder to the front of the peloton to bring back the dangerous breakaway. On Salmon Hill on the sixth lap with about 50km remaining, the Dutchwoman Lucinda Brand bridged to the breakaway to make four in the lead. But more importantly, the Dutch had two riders.

Luckily, the Americans received help from the Czech team and by the end of the sixth lap, the peloton was all together.

The penultimate lap of the women’s championship road race was full of attacking. Dani King (Great Britain) went up the road and immediately the Dutch reacted to cover the move, sending Janneke Ensing up the road. Amanda Spratt (Australia) and Elise Delzenne (France) joined Ensing in bridging to the leader. A crash in the peloton brought down pre-race favorite Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio (South Africa).

On Salmon Hill for the second to last time, Anna van der Breggen (Netherlands) attacked hard and brought a select group of riders with her, including two former world champions, Pauline Ferrand-Prevot (France) and Lizzie Deignan (Great Britain).

However, despite many strong riders in the lead group of 13, the move would not last. It was all back together as the riders came back into the center of Bergen. Right as the junction was made Chantal Blaak (Netherlands), Audrey Cordon-Ragot (France), and Barnes counter-attacked, 23kms remained in the race.

The leading trio entered the final lap with a 30-second advantage over the peloton, which was led by American Lauren Stephens. Sarah Roy (Australia) was in-between the break and peloton, trying to get to the leaders.

On Salmon Hill for the final time, the trio had pushed their advantage to over 40 seconds, but attacks were flying out of the bunch.

Katarzyna Niewiadome (Poland) launched an incredibly hard attack, which sent everyone scrambling. Over the top of the climb a four-rider chase group of Annemiek van Vleuten, van der Breggen, and Garfoot had caught the leading trio, creating seven leaders. American Coryn Rivera and Ferrand-Prevot where part of the second group on the road, but they were more than 30 seconds behind the leaders.

With three riders in the front group, the Dutch took turns attacking. Blaak escaped the group with under 8kms to go and went into time trial mode. The group behind was disorganized in chasing her.

While Blaak powered along up front, the chase group continued to attack each other instead of working together to bring back the leader. Van der Breggen and van Vleuten covered all of the moves, protecting the lead of their teammate.

Into the final finishing straight, Blaak could not believe she was about to become world champion. The Dutchwoman was able to soak in the atmosphere, as she held a 20-second lead to the chasers.

“We didn’t really talk to each other, but we knew what to do,” Blaak said. “We were seven [in the break] and three of us [were Dutch]. “Annemiek attacked first and everyone was reacting. Then I thought this was
the right moment.

“We had really good teamwork, everything went as planned, everyone was strong and we raced aggressively also. There was a lot of pressure because we have to win, but it worked. I was already super happy that I had the national jersey this year but, yeah, it’s a dream.”

Many groups came together in the final few hundred meters, making for a hectic sprint. Garfoot was able to sprint to the silver medal and Dideriksen came out of nowhere to seal bronze. The group came in 28 seconds behind Blaak.

Rivera was part of the final group sprinting for silver and bronze but was only able to muster 18th place.

Full results

  • 1. Chantal Blaak, (NED) , in 4:06:30
  • 2. Katrin Garfoot, (AUS) , at :28
  • 3. Amalie Dideriksen, (DEN) , at :28
  • 4. Annemiek Van Vleuten, (NED) , at :28
  • 5. Katarzyna Niewiadoma, (POL) , at :28
  • 6. Christine Majerus, (LUX) , at :28
  • 7. Susanne Andersen, (NOR) , at :28
  • 8. Anna Van Der Breggen, (NED) , at :28
  • 9. Emilia Fahlin, (SWE) , at :28
  • 10. Elena Cecchini, (ITA) , at :28
  • 11. Pauline Ferrand Prevot, (FRA) , at :28
  • 12. Leah Kirchmann, (CAN) , at :28
  • 13. Lucinda Brand, (NED) , at :28
  • 14. Hannah Barnes, (GBR) , at :28
  • 15. Ellen Van Dijk, (NED) , at :28
  • 16. Rasa Leleivyte, (LTU) , at :28
  • 17. Sheyla Gutierrez Ruiz, (ESP) , at :28
  • 18. Coryn Rivera, (USA) , at :28
  • 19. Sarah Roy, (AUS) , at :28
  • 20. Danielle King, (GBR) , at :28
  • 21. Linda Villumsen, (NZL) , at :28
  • 22. Urša Pintar, (SLO) , at :28
  • 23. Shara Gillow, (AUS) , at :28
  • 24. Martina Ritter, (AUT) , at :28
  • 25. Janneke Ensing, (NED) , at :28
  • 26. Polona Batagelj, (SLO) , at :28
  • 27. Olga Zabelinskaya, (RUS) , at :28
  • 28. Vita Heine, (NOR) , at :28
  • 29. Ann-Sophie Duyck, (BEL) , at :28
  • 30. Paula Andrea PatiÑo Bedoya, (COL) , at :28
  • 31. Margarita Victoria Garcia Canellas, (ESP) , at :28
  • 32. Karol-Ann Canuel, (CAN) , at :28
  • 33. Ingrid Drexel Clouthier, (MEX) , at :28
  • 34. Eugenia Bujak, (POL) , at :28
  • 35. Hanna Nilsson, (SWE) , at :28
  • 36. Elise Delzenne, (FRA) , at :28
  • 37. Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig, (DEN) , at :36
  • 38. Tatiana Guderzo, (ITA) , at :36
  • 39. Audrey Cordon Ragot, (FRA) , at :37
  • 40. Amanda Spratt, (AUS) , at :38
  • 41. Elizabeth Deignan, (GBR) , at :38
  • 42. Lisa Brennauer, (GER) , at 1:19
  • 43. Ramona Forchini, (SUI) , at 1:19
  • 44. Amy Pieters, (NED) , at 1:19
  • 45. Giorgia Bronzini, (ITA) , at 1:19
  • 46. Rossella Ratto, (ITA) , at 1:34
  • 47. Marianne Vos, (NED) , at 1:50
  • 48. Hayley Simmonds, (GBR) , at 2:31
  • 49. Lisa Klein, (GER) , at 2:31
  • 50. Eri Yonamine, (JPN) , at 2:31
  • 51. Trixi Worrack, (GER) , at 2:31
  • 52. Diana Carolina PeÑuela Martinez, (COL) , at 3:53
  • 53. Rachel Neylan, (AUS) , at 4:01
  • 54. Romy Kasper, (GER) , at 4:01
  • 55. Eider Merino Cortazar, (ESP) , at 4:18
  • 56. Anastasiia Iakovenko, (RUS) , at 4:43
  • 57. Alison Jackson, (CAN) , at 4:43
  • 58. Chloe Hosking, (AUS) , at 4:43
  • 59. Georgia Williams, (NZL) , at 4:43
  • 60. Lauren Stephens, (USA) , at 4:43
  • 61. Nikola NoskovÁ, (CZE) , at 4:43
  • 62. Stine Borgli, (NOR) , at 5:51
  • 63. Camilla MØllebro Pedersen, (DEN) , at 5:51
  • 64. Olga Shekel, (UKR) , at 5:51
  • 65. Pernille Mathiesen, (DEN) , at 5:57
  • 66. Elinor Barker, (GBR) , at 6:36
  • 67. Lex Albrecht, (CAN) , at 8:38
  • 68. Sara Bergen, (CAN) , at 9:37
  • 69. Omer Shapira, (ISR) , at 9:37
  • 70. Ruth Winder, (USA) , at 9:37
  • 71. Sofia Bertizzolo, (ITA) , at 9:37
  • 72. Amber Leone Neben, (USA) , at 13:06
  • 73. Kirsti Lay, (CAN) , at 14:02
  • 74. Kseniia Dobrynina, (RUS) , at 14:02
  • 75. Eugénie Duval, (FRA) , at 14:52
  • 76. Aude Biannic, (FRA) , at 14:52

AFP contributing reporting to this story