UCI Road World Championships 2012
Marianne Vos (Netherlands) broke the world championship gold drought with an impressive display of riding that was a class above everyone else in the field. Australian Rachel Neylan drove hard to the line to ensure she had the silver medal in her first world championship. Italian Elisa Longo Borghini held on for bronze ahead of American Amber Neben.
Conditions were perfect for the start of the women's road race. The bunch of 132 staters rolled down from the start, with the top team evident at the front, USA, Germany, Italy, Australia, Netherlands and Great Britain all had riders marshalling the front.
The teams were tying to remain in groups to protect their key riders. As they approached the Bemelerberg for the first time, Katie Colclough and Emma Pooley were on the front for GB.
The pace was quite high and the bunch started to string out. Judith Arndt (GER) was in he usual position at the back of the bunch. Belgium, USA, France and Sweden were all evident at the front of the race.
USA were controlling the race as they approached the top of the first climb. They had four of the team in the top 6 riders over the top, including Evelyn Stevens, Kristin Mcgrath, Andrea Dvorak and Carmen Small. Pooley as also there with Mirian Bjornsrud (NOR). The Dutch were keeping hidden in the middle of the bunch, allowing others to take control.
The pace was extremely high as they approached Valkenburg for the first time and the bottom of the Cauberg for the first time. The breaks started to form in the peloton as riders fought to stay in touch with the high pace set by the Americans and the British riders. At the steeper section the bunch closed in a again as the Italian former World Champion Tatiana Guderzo and Elisa Longo Borghini took control.
Over the finish line to complete the first lap, Isabelle Soderberg (SWE) led the bunch over to start lap two. Loren Rowney (AUS) in her first World Championships was second over the line followed by former Olympic and World Road champion Nicole Cooke (GBR).
Each of the teams had riders on the front. Katie Colclough (GBR), Charlotte Becker (GER), Annemiek van Vleuten (NED) were all evident on the front.
As the road narrowed Rosella Ratto (ITA) had to flip on the grass and onto the bike path for a few metres before rejoining the race on the road. At the Bemelerberg for the second time, Rowney (AUS) was at the head of the race with Kristin Mcgrath (USA) and Marta Tagliaferro (ITA).
On the flatter section of the course at the top section of the back of the course, the bunch slowed as the course narrowed. As the roads widened a little the pace picked up as the Russians moved to the front with Becker (GER) on the approach to Valkenburg for the second time. The peloton were bunched up on the climb. Robyn de Groot (RSA) was towards the back and slipped a gear, crashing to the ground. She quickly got back on her bike albeit just off the back of the race.
A touch of wheels mid bunch caused a crash on the climb decimated the bunch. Sixty riders managed to avoid the carnage. Pre-race favourite Vos (NED) and Stevens (USA) avoided the mess, as did 2011 World Champion Giorgia Bronzini (ITA). Emma Pooley and Katie Colclough (GBR), Claudia Hausler, Ina-Yoko Teutenberg and Judith Arndt (GER), Tatiana Guderzo (ITA), Shara Gillow (AUS), ShellyOlds (USA), Ellen van Dijk and Annemiek van Vleuten (NED), Linda Villumsen (NZL) and Jessie Daams (BEL) were all held up between 30 seconds and 1 minute of the back of the bunch. For 5 km the back markers chased hard to try to make contact again with the bunch.
On the Bemelerberg for the third time after 40,2km of racing the front group was up to 81riders . The American Megan Guarnier set a fast pace on the front which created some small time gaps over the top of the climb. Of the favoured riders, only Olds (USA), Hausler (GER) and Villumsen (GER) were still chasing back. Teutenberg got a back puncture and had to chase back on the steepest part of the Cauberg.
The pace steadied as the lead group approached Valkenburg for the third time. The Dutch team moved to the front to control the pace. Hanka Kupfergagel (GER) moved to the front but the Americans tried to attack again. 96 leading riders crossed the start/finish line to start lap 4. Teutenberg had almost made contact and managed to just get in touch when an attack from Loes Gunniwijk (NED) opened up a 50 lead . She was chased by Judith Arndt (GER).
Trixi Worrack (GER), Liesbet De vocht (BEL) and Kirsten Wild (NED) opened up a gap but it was closed by Jessie Maclean (AUS).
The pace eased again on the approach to the Bemelerberg or the 4th time. Emma Pooley was on the front setting tempo. Alena Amialiusik (BLR) was struggling after the crash and needed medical treatment from the Doctor.
As the bunch reached the top of the Bemelerberg, Vos was sitting in 32 second wheel. Immediately an attack from Lucinda Brand (NED) opened up the race. The Italians and Germany's Teutenberg closed down the gap. Almost immediately Adrie Visser (NED) attacked forcing the bunch to chase again. This time is was Arndt (GER) who closed the gap. The Kristin Mcgrath (USA) attacked again and this time Rommy Kasper (GER), Annemiek van Vleuten (NED), Noemi Cantele (ITA), Larisa Pankova (RUS) and Loren Rowney formed a lead group.
On the Cauberg, the six leaders pushed hard to create a gap on the bunch. Rowney and Kasper dropped back to the peloton. Becker (GER) joined the leaders with Sharon Laws (GRB), de Vocht (BEL) Paulina Brzezna-Bentlowska (POL), Ivanna Borovichenko (URK) and Tagliafarro (ITA) had a 7 second lead. Visser (NED) led the bunch.
The peloton came back together again. De Vocht the Belgian Time Trial champion was setting the pace on the front.
As the peloton approach the Bemelerberg for the 5th time, USA, Great Britain, Italy and the Netherlands were on the front. Shara Gillow (AUS) picked up the pace but she was marked by Wild (NED). Gracie Elvin (AUS) attacked and strung out the bunch. She was chased by Evelyn Ayres (BEL).
USA's Amber Neben stretched out the bunch again on the Bemlerberg, this time creating a small group that included Ratto (ITA), Becker (GER), Rachel Neylan (AUS) and Anna van der Breggan (NED). The group managed to gain a 36 second lead. Visser decided the lead group was one she should be concerned about and attacked to try to close the gap. She was joined by Elvin (AUS). Eventually the bunch came back together.
The leader were on the Cauberg holding a 22 second advantage. Neben was trying to encourage them to work as they approached the start/finish area to start lap 6. After 80.5 km of racing the five leaders were 29 seconds ahead.
A number of riders tried to bridge across to the leaders but each time their attempts were thwarted. The five leader were increasing their lead encouraged by Neben. The former World time trial champion was certainly the most active as they held a 36 second lead.
At the foot of the Bemelerberg the gap to the chase was 22 seconds. Van der Breggan (NED) was not contributing the work as much as the others. As the gradient increased the gap went out to 33 seconds again. As the leaders approached the top the gap had increased to 41 seconds.
The lead was holding at 35 seconds with 35.2 km to go. Nikki Harris (GBR) moved to the front of the peloton to try to close the gap on the leaders. On the approach to the Cauberg the gapwas down to 28 seconds.
Vos decided to attack to join the leaders and quickly joined the leaders. Longo Borghini (ITA) also attacked and joined the leading group. This sparked a chase from Pooley and Bronzini. They were joined by Emma Johansson (SWE).Annemiek van Vleuten (NED), Liesbet de Vocht (BEL), Tiffany Cromwell (AUS) and Oxana Kozonchuk (RUS). The did not manage to shake off the rest of the peloton however.
The new leading group was immediately sparked by the attendance of Vos. Van der Breggan started to work and they increased the lead to 1 minute 26 seconds.
A lone chaser Larisa Pankova (RUS) was 27 seconds back.
As the leader approached the Bemelerberg for the 7th time the lead had increased to 1 minute 32 seconds. By the time they reached the top te gap was 1 minute 34 to Pankova and 1 minute 53 to the bunch.
The leaders were working well together. Van der Breggen was doing a lot of work as was Vos and the two Italians.
With 19.5 km to go the gap was 2 minutes 4 seconds. At the bottom of the Cauberg Vos attacked. Longo Borghini was able to with her. Neylan closed the gap and the three leaders were joined by Neben and Van der Breggen who closed the gap. At the start of the final lap the five leaders had a 22 second gap on Ratto and 45 second gap to Becker. The Peloton were 2 minutes 57 back.
On the decent, Vos attacked again. Neylan went with her. Longo Borghini had to fight to close the gap and brought the others with her.
On the Bemelerberg for the final time Van Der Breggen was leading Vos, Longo Borghini, Neylan and Neben. With 7.3 km to go the crowds lined the roads to cheer on their local hero.
5.3 km to go, Vos was working hard on the front. Van der Breggen attacked.
Neben gave chase and closed the gap.
5.3 km to go, Vos was working hard on the front. Van der Breggen attacked. Neben gave chase and closed the gap.On the Cauberg Neylan attacked first but Vos turned another gear and attacked at the steepest point. Neylan responded but could not catch Vos.
With 1.5km to go Vos had a 150 m lead which she carried to the line and even had time to grab a flag on route to gold again after a 5 year silver run. Australian Rachel Neylan drove hard to the line to ensure she had the silver medal in her first world championship. Italian Elisa Longo Borghini held on for bronze ahead of American Amber Neben.
Marianne Vos,(Netherlands), finally has a gold medal again and could not have been happier that it was achieved in her home coountry, "It’s been an amazing year. Really incredible. It started great with the world championship cyclocross but then I broke my collarbone.The plan was to get in shape at the Giro d’Italia. Well, that worked: I won. Then the gold at the Olympics, the World Cup overall and now this. We had such a strong team here," said Vos.
Discussing the moment she attacked to close the gap to the leading group, Vos said "I asked the girls to keep the gap at 35 seconds, you can bridge that on the Cauberg. Anna [Van der Breggen] was in front so that was excellent. I knew this break was the correct one, good riders on board."
Vos attacked again on the final assent of the Cauberg, "I geared up before the steepest part of the Cauberg and went flat-out. It was pretty hard, especially the last 1,5 kilometers with a head-wind. But is sure helps if you’ve been here a hundred thousand times," added Vos.
Vos was asked if she was impressed by Longo? "I know she’s strong. She’s young and very talented.”
About the future (asked how Vos is going to top this season): "I haven’t given it much thought so far and don’t think I will honestly.”
Rachel Neylan, (Australia) is in her first world championships and she is the forth Australia to win a medal at this level and only the third to win silver. Neylan's silver finally ends a 7 year drought. Oenone Wood won Bronze in 2005 and Anna Wilson and Liz Tadich won silver in 1999 and 1997 respectively. "It’s been a rough season and I was quite surprised and honored to be selected. So this medal is a shock. It’s my first worlds ever you know.” "I can't describe it. It is unbelievable, I never ever dreamed today that I would be standing here with a silver medal around my neck," said Neylan
"I wasn’t surprised when Marianne caught up with us," said Neylan about Vos reaching the leading group. "With two Dutch girls and two Italians my role in the breakaway changed. I was supposed to assist Tiffany Cromwell, but with two laps to go I got the all clear," added Neylan.
Reflecting on Marianne’s attack, "I knew she wouldn’t wait until the finish-line but I just could not match her speed when she attacked," said Neylan
"I kept on waiting for the chance for Tiffany to come across and for when the groups were going to come together," said Neylan. "The way that it unfolded I got the all clear once Vos came across and once I knew I was racing for a medal I just had to stay calm and play the right moves."
knew I had the strength on the climb and on the last lap I went for it at
the bottom (of the Cauberg)," explained Neylan. "I
had nothing to lose, absolutely nothing to lose and I think no one expected
me to be there at the end. I was definitely an underdog.
is a former hurdler and rower and began her cycling career in 2007 with
Cycling Australia's National Talent Identification Program. She made her
international debut in 2009 and has since then raced in Europe each season
in the professional women's ranks.
2011 a fractured pelvis required a painful recovery with up to six hours a
day of rehabilitation exercises. Back on the bike and almost ready to
compete again she was hit by a car while riding on Grange Road in Adelaide
re-fracturing the pelvis and forcing her back to square one of her recovery.
through this year she parted ways with her professional team in what she
diplomatically terms "undfortunate cirumstances" and was forced to
fund her own way so she could line-up as a guest rider in various teams in
was a sink or swim situation," said Neylan who was rewarded for
her tenacity with a ride in the team for the world titles. "It is
just an absolute dream come true to be standing here today, representing
Australia. Just to be selected for this world championships team was such an
honour. I can't tell you how happy I am."
Elisa Longo-Borghini, (Italy) was a very happy 20 year old bronze medalist, "This is my first world championship as an elite-rider so this is a fantastic result. The best woman won today, she’s been the best all year," said Longo Borghini.
Asked about the crash, Longo Borghini added, "I was always riding in the front of the group, keeping an eye on Marianne, so I wasn’t involved in the crash,"
Longo Borghini was able to go with Vos on her first attack on the Cauberg with one lap to go, "The second attack by Marianne, I could still keep her wheel. I’m not afraid of her, you just have to give everything. The last attack however was way too much. I was worn-out. After the Cauberg I gave everything and this is the result. If you had told me two years ago I wouldn’t have believed you.”
Marianne Vos (Netherlands) was relaxed and ready, "I feel good," said Vos. Vos is aware of the fact that is will be a tough race and certainly knows it is no a foregone conclusion, "There are many women who will likely make a select group and it will be the best riders on the day so we have to be prepared. I know I am strong and we have a strong team," added Vos.
Dave MacPartland (Director Australia) was very relaxed before the start, "We are quietly confident. We have a good group, an all round team. The whole team is there and ready for a big result," said MacPartland. "We think the race will be aggressive and ultimately we hope we are in the right move," added MacPartland.
Ronny Lauke (Director Germany) was relaxed and all smiles at the start of the race, "I hope it is going to be an aggressive race and that the various nations are racing right from the start to make it aggressive. They all feel good, the are all happy. They are a good unit I am confident, " said Lauke.
This is the last professional race for Judith Arndt, Lauke commented on how much of a loss Judit's retirement will be to German cycling, "It happens in sport, it is sad. There is a lot of knowledge going from the federation. A lot of quality you can not replace again just like that. It will be a big whole for the federation but hopefully they can fix it soon," added Lauke
Shelly Olds (USA) was very relaxed, "We are feeling good," said Olds.
Evelyn Stevens (USA) is one of the favourites for the race, "I am a little nervous and a little excited. We have a pretty awesome team. I think it is going to be a good race. I am ready, one more fireball to drop" said Stevens.
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