Spectacular racing by Van Vleuten and Garfoot at Strade BiancheSat 4 Mar 2017
The Strade Bianche, the first race of the UCI Women’s World Tour unfolded in spectacular fashion today with Australian national champion Katrin Garfoot and Annemiek van Vleuten both in the top ten after strong performances for ORICA-SCOTT.
Wind and rain played a huge part in the finale with van Vleuten and Garfoot both part of the late attack that battled out the win.
After losing then regaining contact more than once in the closing kilometres, Garfoot crossed the line in 7th place with van Vleuten in 5th behind eventual winner Elisa Longo Borghini (Wiggle-High5).
“There was a bit of everything for everyone in today’s race,” said Sport director Martin Barras. “We expected our depth would be good and it was. It is rare that you can say all riders were pitching in evenly, but today we got that.”
“Jenelle Crooks and Georgia Williams controlled the race perfectly for us and helped us recover from an untimely crash for Amanda Spratt early on in the longest gravel sector of the race.
“The finale was very promising, but it soon became apparent that we did not have the strongest climbers at the front and struggled to work out the perfect combination of aggression and cunning to pull off a better result.
“Overall we are pleased with our strength, but realise that we still have some fine tuning to do.”
How it happened:
A cloudy morning welcomed the riders to the start of third elite women’s Strade Bianche in Siena with 126kilometres ahead and seven sectors of white gravel roads.
After a fast start the peloton and despite flurries of attacks, the peloton was still a compact bunch after 60kilometres of racing.
Splits began to form on the run into the Asciano climb with an elite group of around 50riders accelerating and halving the bunch.
With just over 40kilometres remaining a breakaway trio slipped clear of the reduced peloton and held a slender advantage of one-minute 20seconds.
ORICA-SCOTT moved to the front to control the chase as the peloton started to reform on the flat sections between climbs with the three leaders just over a minute ahead.
Only 20kilometres remained when the breakaway trio was finally caught with fresh attack of five riders coming immediately.
The new move included Van Vleuten and Garfoot with a lead of 15seconds and 16kilometres left to race.
Lizzie Deignan (Boels-Dolmans), Longo Borghini and Kasia Niewiadoma (WM3-Pro-Cycling) made up the rest of the Grafoot/Van Vleuten quintet with three more riders trying to bridge across as the race swung back towards Siena.
Garfoot lost contact on the last gravel section with less than ten kilometres to go and the rain now falling heavily before incredibly bridging back across inside the final three kilometres.
Out of nowhere two more riders stormed past the leaders and onto the finishing climb before Longo Borghini fought back to take the win with Van Vleuten finishing in 5th place and Garfoot in 7th with Spratt close behind in 8th.
Strade Bianche results:
1. Elisa Longo Borghini (Wiggle-High5) 03:44:45
2. Kasia Niewiadoma (WM3-Pro-Cycling) 00:00:02
3. Lizzie Deignan (Boels-Dolmans) 00:00:05
5. Annemiek van Vleuten (ORICA-SCOTT) 00:00:09
Photos courtesy of ©TDWsport.com