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COPENHAGEN (VN) — Giorgia Bronzini (Italy) defended her rainbow jersey while Marianne Vos (Holland) finished runner-up for the fifth time in a row Saturday in a heated women’s race at the world road cycling championships.
Bronzini timed her sprint perfectly in the long drag to the line in the 140km race to relegate Vos into silver by a half-wheel length. Ina-Yoko Teutenberg (Germany) crossed the line third for bronze while Olympic champion Nicole Cooke (Great Britain) finished fourth.
There’s supposedly a rainbow-jersey curse for world champions, but Bronzini rode a perfect race and the Italian team protected her right until the final 300 meters. While others surged too early on the slightly rising finale, Bronzini timed it just right.
“I am surprised because I didn’t expect to have a sprint like last year. I thought about the race, thinking it would be best for the Germans. It wouldn’t be so easy for us,” Bronzini said. “That’s why with three laps to go, my teammate had a change of rhythm in the race. My teammate, Baccaille, I asked her to start her sprint early, with me on the wheel, to make it fast and hard for me.”
Canada’s Clara Hughes made an audacious bid to surprise the sprinters with a solo attack with three laps to go. She used her speed-skating strength to good use and kicked to a promising 36-second lead with a lap to go on the 10-lap, 14km circuit.
Hughes bravely fought alone, hoping that someone might bridge out to join her. The Dutch team finally ramped up the chase with two laps to go when her gap grew to a menacing 48 seconds.
Hughes ran out of asphalt with just under 3km to go. The powerful Dutch team rammed home the sprint, but Bronzini crashed the party.
“I was not too worried about (Hughes’) break, because we knew that the Dutch and German teams would help us to control her and set up the sprint,” Bronzini said. “To win a second time is a dream. I didn’t have a great season, but I felt special coming back to the worlds.”
Vos made a late surge with 75 meters to go, but left it too late. Bronzini pipped her at the line to defend, leaving Vos in tears as she settled for her fifth straight runner-up world’s result.
“I couldn’t believe it could be possible to get silver five times in a row,” Vos said. “It was a perfect race for us. We knew it was going to be too fast and hard to get away in a small group. They placed me in a perfect position with 150m, but I made a mistake to not open up my sprint. I left it too late, and when I started my sprint, it was close, but not close enough.”
The Germans tried to upset the heavily favored Vos — who did win the world title in 2006 — by sending Judith Arndt and Trixi Worrack on late-race attacks in the closing kilometers.
“Marianne has been almost unbeatable this season, so we tried to disrupt her train a little bit and create some confusion and maybe get her in the wind early,” Teutenberg said. “But I think it was me who went a little early, but these two were stronger than me.”
The American team saw Robin Farina and Evelyn Stevens get tangled up behind a crash with less than 2km to go, disrupting their plans to set up Theresa Cliff-Ryan and Shelley Olds for the sprint finish.
Amber Neben went on a solo move with four laps to go just ahead of Hughes’ big effort. Cliff-Ryan led the way for the American team with 18th.
- 1. Giorgia Bronzini (ITA), 140km in 3:21:08
- 2. Marianne Vos (NED), same time
- 3. Ina-Yoko Teutenberg (GER), s.t.
- 4. Nicole Cooke (GBR), s.t.
- 5. Julia Martisova (RUS), s.t.