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Women’s worlds: Van der Breggen solos to stunning victory

Van der Breggen takes it for the Dutch after dominating long-range attack, while Spratt fights for second and Guderzo takes third

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Anna van der Breggen won the 2018 world championship road race for the Dutch, adding the rainbow bands to her Olympic title. Van der Breggen was imperious, attacking on the penultimate lap and soloing to a 39-kilometer victory. Amanda Spratt took second for Australia, 03:42 behind, whilst Tatiana Guderzo (Italy) attacked from a chase group to take third, crossing the line 05:26 after the leader.

“The World Championships are always [a goal] and I know it’s so difficult to win it, so I’m really happy with this title,” Van der Breggen said.

“I didn’t know anything. I kept going and I think at the finish line I only believed it was possible, so yeah it’s amazing. I had too many times this season that I was caught at the finish, so I just kept on continuing and tried to eat and drink good and go as fast as possible,” said the new world champion.

The 156km race started with flurries of short-lived attacks from various nations, with the British, Dutch and Australians setting the tempo in the bunch.

As the race approached the first major climb – the Gnadenwald – there were three break groups, with Ana Cristina Sanabria Sanchez (Colombia) and Aurela Nerlo (Poland) leading the race. On 95km remaining, Annemiek Van Vleuten (Netherlands), Dani King (GBR), and many others hit the deck after colliding with a road island. Van Vleuten initially seemed in pain but soon chased back.

The race came back together on 75km, only for Lotta Pauliina Lepisto (Finland), Tatiana Guderzo (Italy), Ellen Van Dijk (Netherlands), and Emma Cecilie Norsgaard Jorgensen (Denmark), to go clear, leaving Australia to chase as the race entered the first of three circuits that included the Igls climb.

The break went out to over a minute, but Australia chased hard behind, shattering the peloton.

On the second ascent of the Igls climb, Van Dijk was dropped from the breakaway, whilst behind, Coryn Rivera (USA) attacked. Not content to let such a threat go, the Dutch took up the chase over the summit. A group of five – Elena Pirrone (Italy), Van Dijk, Emilia Fahlin (Sweden), Amanda Spratt (Australia), and Malgorzata Jasinska (Poland) –  bridged to Rivera as the race entered the second lap, forming a bunch of six. Behind, two groups from the shattered peloton re-formed, including many of the Dutch.

With 43km remaining, Van der Breggen countered an attack by teammate Annemiek van Vleuten, launching herself as the climb kicked in. She soon caught and dropped the now-splintered break, and with 3km remaining of the climb, it was only Spratt that could cling on. Rivera doggedly chased behind. With 39km to go, the elastic snapped, and Van der Breggen went clear, taking a 35-second gap by the summit.

As the race hit the final lap, Van der Breggen had pushed her margin to over a minute over Spratt, looking unassailable. Back in the bunch, her Dutch teammates controlled and slowed the pace. This brought on an attack from the pack of five riders, who caught Rivera and looked to chase down Spratt. This group of six fighting for third place were Karol-Ann Canuel (Canada), Amy Pieters (Netherlands), Emilia Fahlin (Sweden), Malgorzata Jasinska (Poland), Rivera and Guderzo.

Meanwhile, Van der Breggen’s lead grew and grew, and she crossed the line 03:42 ahead of Spratt. Guderzo took third after attacking on the final climb, finishing 05:26 behind the winner. The Dutch demonstrated their dominance of the sport, taking three more spots in the top 10, with Ruth Winder (USA) taking tenth.