UCI World Road Race, Denmark

 

Giorgio Bronzini successfully defended her World Road Race title in Denmark on Saturday 24 September.  For the fifth year in a row, the silver medal went to Marianne Vos, who was momentarily blocked during the sprint and she was unable to hide her bitter disappointment at being so close but not taking the title for the fifth year in a row, while Germany's Ina Teutenberg snatched the bronze medal.

 

After the finish, Bronzini admitted that she doubted her ability to win again as her season had not been the best “I believed in the race and the podium, but I thought the jersey was impossible because my season had been low, but maybe when I wear the Italian jersey, I feel something, like I have more energy."  Of her winning sprint she said: “It was an incredible finish. It was very important to be in the right place heading into the final corner. I had a very good sprint and I went as hard as I could. Thank you to my team.”

 

The mostly flat course had been tipped for a sprint finish and with so many nations riding for that aim, it inevitably did come down to a mass charge for the line.  EuroSport commentators were roundly criticised for suggesting the early stages of the race was boring and even Nicole Cooke (GB), who eventually finished fourth, admitted that it was “a bit negative” because so many nations were riding for a sprint finish.  However, it was not without aggression with Canada’s Clara Hughes putting in a determined solo attack that saw her ride alone for almost two laps, only to be caught in the final kilometres.

 

Earlier in the race there were a number of attacks that came to nothing.  Emma Pooley (Great Britain) was very visible both attacking and defending on a circuit that did not give her the opportunity to show her strength on the climbs.

 

New Zealand's Linda Villumsen, who had taken silver in the time trial earlier in the week, was another who showed herself.  Riding without any team support and lacking a sprint finish she twice desperately tried to break free of the peloton.

 

American, Amber Neben managed to take two seconds on the bunch, but she never looked confident and the move was quickly neutralised.  Shortly after this, Clara Hughes rode off the front to gain a gap of 44 seconds on the peloton.  The gap dropped to just 10 seconds and Linda Villumsen made her second move off the front of the bunch.  It looked like a good move and she gave it everything but was eventually brought back by the Germans and the Dutch.  Clara Hughes continued on alone at the front and built the gap back up to almost 40 seconds at the bell, but as she began to fade, the sprinters teams came alive and, largely due to the efforts of the Dutch team, Clara Hughes was brought back in the final 3km.

 

A crash just before the final sprint took Villumsen and Great Britain’s Lizzie Armistead out of contention.  Vos still had three teammates with her and looked good for the title but she was momentarily blocked and Giorgio Bronzini capitalised on a great team lead out to take the win.

 

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