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“It was the one last thing missing,” says Van der Breggen

Van der Breggen showered with praise by her rivals for a world champs performance that had been her goal for the whole season

INNSBRUCK, Austria (AFP) —Newly-crowned world champion Anna van der Breggen says she can finally relax and just enjoy cycling in her rainbow jersey after pulverizing the opposition at Innsbruck on Saturday to achieve her goal of winning the women’s road race.

The 28-year-old Dutch rider said she had based her whole season around the 156-kilometer world championships road race, and it showed as she beat Australia’s Amanda Spratt into second by 03:42 as Italy’s Tatiana Guderzo took bronze almost another 2 minutes behind.

“What happened is that Anna van der Breggen happened,” Guderzo said. “She was unbeatable.”

Spratt was in a similar mood saying she hadn’t minded losing to the “deserved champion”. “She was totally on another level,” said the silver medallist.

Van der Breggen, the Olympic and European champion from 2016, broke down in tears briefly on crossing the line to wild cheers with a large family contingent in the crowd.

“Until the finish line I never believed it,” she said. “World championships are so hard to win. I have been chasing this jersey all season and have raced less races and spent so much time training here I’ve started to get to know people.

“They have put on a great world championships and I just love Innsbruck,” said van der Breggen, who finished second in the time trial to compatriot Annemiek van Vleuten on Tuesday.

The winner made her move after the Australian team had chased down an earlier attack to get Spratt into the lead group. Van der Breggen sustained her tempo to drop everyone except Spratt, who slowed in the final kilometer to leave the Dutchwoman to go it alone for almost two full, 23km-long laps of Innsbruck.

“Me and Annemiek were racing as joint leaders but she fell heavily and was in pain,” said Van der Breggen. “So she led me in and then at the hill I just went for it. I ate as much as I could, drank as much as I could and went as fast as I could all the way because you just never know.

“But I had timed my season to be fresh for these world championships,” she said. “Now I’m glad it’s finally over and I can relax and just enjoy wearing this jersey. You get to wear it all year and that is what makes it so special.

“It was the one last thing missing and it was my main goal.”

The Italian veteran Guderzo described the race as horribly hard.

“We suffer as much as the men,” she said. “Which is why I will continue to fight for equal status with them.”