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The Polish rider believes that longer courses dampen the action during race and that a slightly shorter route would provide a much more “dynamic race.” This year’s 164.3km route in Australia is the longest since the women’s road race was added to the world championships program in 1958 and the first to surpass the 160km mark.
Niewiadoma — who finished on the podium at last year’s 157.7km road race in Leuven — felt that the action didn’t start early enough at the weekend and would like to see at least 20km trimmed from that distance for future road races.
“I was hoping that the action would start earlier, so I was surprised that my attack was one of the first ones and it was basically two laps to go,” Niewiadoma said. “I think it’s always like this when we have long races. That’s why I’m a big fan of having something like 130 or 140ks, because the race is way more explosive and way more dynamic and we have more attacks going on.
“Anytime it’s over 150, everybody is so cautious. It’s like there’s no racing but just riding and I really hope that the next editions will be more like 140k so that the action is on from early straight away.”
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Before the road race began, many expected the race to explode on Mount Keira, which arrived less than a third of the way into the event. However, the big attacks didn’t materialize, and a large portion of the peloton made it over the big climb and onto the circuits.
Annemiek van Vleuten revealed after the race that she had planned to launch a move with 125km to go but decided against it after breaking her elbow. Though she would eventually go on to win the race, Van Vleuten went into the event working for Marianne Vos.
It meant that the Dutch team rode a far more conservative race than most had previously predicted, as did the Italians, who didn’t really start to light things up until the race reached Wollongong.
“Definitely they had the strongest group, and you would expect them to make a high pace. Yet, you know that all of those teams have sprinters that could win this race. I believe that they were playing it so that they didn’t kill their sprinters. I don’t know, maybe you could ask them,” she said.
Niewiadoma was one of five riders that got away from the rest of the pack over the Mount Pleasant climb. On the second attempt, it looked as though the group might be able to get one over on the chasers, but the group was reeled in with just meters remaining.
“With two laps to go, we were working really well but on the last lap it was all about the hesitation. In the last two kilometers, we were all thinking about the sprint,” Niewiadoma said.
As the two groups come together, Van Vleuten launched a stinging attack that would prove decisive in the fight for the rainbow jersey. While Niewiadoma is discussing the finish, a replay of the finale comes onto a television screen in the media mixed zone.
She watches it and laments about the lack of reaction to the move.
“Nobody does anything and it’s a shame. I don’t know how she sprints with that elbow, chapeau,” she said. “I was aware [of Van Vleuten attacking], but we also had sprinters in there like Lotte Kopecky. I’m not a sprinter. I guess my breakaway got caught and she launched the attack.”
Niewiadoma did her best in the group sprint that ensued behind Van Vleuten but she would have to settle for eighth place in the end.