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Women’s weekend recap: Trofeo Alfredo Binda

Kristen Legan analyzes the key tactics from the Trofeo Alfredo Binda Women's WorldTour race, won by Coryn Rivera.

Coryn Rivera dashed to victory at Trofeo Alfredo Binda over the weekend to snag Team Sunweb’s first Women’s WorldTour win of the year. The young American is transitioning smoothly into her first full season of European racing, helping animate the spring races and making several select breakaways. She was fourth at last week’s Drentse Acht van Westerveld (UCI 1.2) and backed up her tough sprinter credentials with a decisive win on Sunday.

“I didn’t doubt myself, and I had to really fight and really push,” Rivera said. “The team worked really hard to get me in the position and be fresh for the final. So I owe it to them, there was some added pressure there. But I had full confidence I could just hang onto the leaders.”

UCI highlights video:

Key Race Action

Attack, attack, attack: Orica-Scott
Orica-Scott kicked the race into action with repeated attacks and strong teamwork, trying to break up the field. The mostly Australian team has been a key animator in this season’s WWT racing, throwing aggressive attacks and counterattacks at the peloton and forcing responses from top teams like Sunweb and Boels-Dolmans.

“We wanted to have an aggressive style race,” sport director Gene Bates said. “To be honest we were really surprised for it to finish in a sprint, we expected a smaller group of five to 10 riders like it usually is.”

Orica started with an early break from Jessica Allen, who gained a 45-second advantage before the peloton quickly pulled her back in. Katrin Garfoot went next, creating a dangerous group of riders — that looked to be the winning move of the day — including Marianne Vos (WM3), Alena Amialiusik (Canyon-SRAM), and Shara Gillow (FDJ). Boels-Dolmans chased the group back but Orica wasn’t finished yet, as Annemiek van Vlueten went up the road with another strong group including Rivera. Orica’s Garfoot countered this attack, sweeping straight through the lead group with an attempt at a solo run into the finish.

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While none of these moves won the day, Orica is shaking up the race dynamics. Earlier this year, Bates pointed to the rising number of women’s team directors coming from professional men’s racing. He said women’s race tactics will start mirroring the men’s more and more, and “in recent years, it has really become all about power, and the ability to repeat high amounts of it over a short period of time.”

Orica has the 1-2 punch down, so now they just need to translate that into a race-winning move.

What happened to Boels-Dolmans?
Boels came into the third round of WWT racing as a favorite with a stacked squad including returning two-time champion Lizzie Deignan, Olympic gold medalist Anna van der Breggen, and small group sprint specialist Chantal Blaak. Earlier in the week, in the team’s Alfredo Binda preview, Deignan said the team would look to make the race hard enough to drop those that could challenge in a sprint in a bid for a third straight victory. This strategy quickly went out the window on race day.

“Unfortunately Anna was sick, Christine [Majerus] had allergy problems, and Amy [Pieters] was not on a good day,” explained Deignan. “I also wasn’t feeling very well, and we weren’t able to be as aggressive like we normally are.”

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With a weakened team, Boels-Dolmans was forced into defense, chasing down breaks rather than establishing them.“We had to save our energy for the winning moves as we didn’t have the numbers to play with in terms of adding to the overall game,” noted Deignan. “I would normally be aggressive in the climbs as would Anna and Karo, but today wasn’t our day. We had to follow instead of dictate.”

This opened the door for teams like Orica-Scott and Sunweb to take control.

The dynamic duo: Team Sunweb
Team Sunweb started the day with Ellen van Dijk as leader, but when it was clear the race would come down to a sprint, it shifted support to the new team sprinter. Van Dijk went to the front at 2 kilometers to go with Rivera tucked away behind her. The duo had prime position through the last corner and Rivera sprinted to victory with over 150 meters of false flat to go.

“I was really thankful to have the support of my team and especially Ellen [van Dijk] there with me, she came back over to me at the last climb and stayed with me through to the end,” Rivera said. “She was instrumental in the finale and I couldn’t have taken the victory without my teammates.”

With Boels out the picture and Orica tired from attacking, Rivera had a clean shot. Other sprinters tucked in behind the pint-sized rider but van Dijk’s lead-out was perfect, setting Rivera up for a clear win. And we’re betting this won’t be the only win for the 70-time U.S. national champion (including junior, U23, and pro titles). She has Sagan-like speed and endurance for the hard, hilly spring races and with her finish line shaka solute, she has the panache and flair as well.

Next up for the Women’s WorldTour is Gent-Wevelgem in Flanders Fields on Sunday, March 26.

WWT ranking update

Individual rankings
Longo Borghini holds onto the leader’s jersey with another top-10 finish, while Elena Cecchini and Van Vleuten both move up the rankings to second and third. Lucinda Brand drops from second to fourth due to her absence at Alfredo Binda and Niewadoma jumps up one spot to fifth.

1. (1*) Elisa Longo Borghini (Wiggle-High5) – 220 points
2. (3) Elena Cecchini (Canyon-SRAM) – 185 points
3. (5) Annemiek van Vleuten (Orica-Scott) – 170 points
4. (2) Lucinda Brand (Team Sunweb) – 155 points
5 . (6) Katarzyna Niewiadoma (WM3) – 135 points

Team rankings
Despite a lackluster showing at Alfredo Binda, Boels Dolmans remains at the top of the WWT team competition. Sunweb jumps up two spots thanks to Rivera’s win, pushing Wiggle-High5 and Orica-Scott down a spot. Canyon-SRAM also makes it into the top five with strong performances from the team.

1. (1*) Boels Dolmans – 351 points
2. (4) Team Sunweb – 299 points
3. (2) Wiggle-High5 – 290 points
4. (3) Orica-Scott – 265 points
5. (6) Canyon-SRAM – 203 points

* Previous WWT ranking