Giorgia Bronzini wins Drentse 8 as spectator brings down Loren Rowney

by Jessi Braverman


Giorgia Bronzini (Wiggle Honda) won Molecaten Drentse 8 from a breakaway of eight riders to take her first European victory of the season. The two-time world champion beat out Valentina Scandolara (Orica-AIS) and Annemiek van Vleuten (Bigla) to the top step of the podium.

Bronzini’s victory has been overshadowed by a crash in the closing metres. Loren Rowney, racing alongside the barriers, was hit by a spectator. Her bike flew in the air as her body tumbled upside down before she hit the ground – hard. She lay on the finish line for nearly a minute before she was able to pick herself up off the asphalt. Carlee Taylor, Rowney’s roommate, has confirmed that Rowney has a broken collarbone.

This video footage doing the rounds on Twitter shows a spectator’s outstretched arm hitting Rowney’s handlebars, and the intentional-looking nature of the incident explains why the crash rather than the result has become the talking point out of Drenthe. We saw both of these videos posted first by Sarah Connolly.

Before the controversial finish, the Drentse 8 action was dominated by the break of the day. Although the pace was high early, the race remained relatively uneventful over the two large loops around the villages of Westerveld.

“We were going fast but nothing was happening at the front,” Scandolara explained. “The damage was at the back.”

It wasn’t until the race hit the finish circuit in Dwingeloo that the peloton came to life. An attack by Willeke Knol (Liv Plantur) sparked the race-winning move. Knol’s acceleration inspired an immediate reaction. Quickly an eight-rider group took shape. Emilie Moberg (Hitec), Alice Arzuffi (Impa) and Heather Fischer (USA) joined Knol, Bronzini, Scandolara, van Vleuten and Rowney up the road.

“Today the team plan was if we arrive in a bunch sprint, we work for Hosking,” explained Bronzini. “My work was to cover the moves and help, so in the end, I was in the main break.”

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Boels-Dolmans and Rabo Liv had missed out on the move, and the two powerhouses initially gave chase.

“The bunch chased us hard,” said Scandolara. “Boels and Rabobank were not there. We stayed at 10, 20, 30 seconds for many kilometres, but we kept going full gas in the break, and eventually we got up to one minute and more in the last two small laps.”

“Giorgia was jumping turns early,” Scandolara added. “She said she was really tired. Of course, I know she can still win a sprint if she’s tired, but there’s nothing we could do. We had to keep going because we were under pressure.”

As the gap ballooned so did the confidence in the breakaway that the move would survive until the finish. The early cooperation in the group broke down in the final lap.

“There was good teamwork in the break at the beginning,” said Bronzini. “We were all working together. Just in the final lap, they started to attack me.”

“Knol began the attacks,” Scandolara added. “She attacked first. I was on the wheel, and Annemiek came by really fast, attacking us. I knew she was the strongest there after that. I jumped on her wheel, and she made me suffer like hell. When I turned, I saw that Giorgia was coming, so I realized then that she was strong enough to win the race.”

Van Vleuten led through the final corner with Bronzini on her wheel. Scandolara was third wheel into the turn.

“I come over van Vleuten’s wheel at 200 metres to go,” said Bronzini. “It is the first win for me in Europe, and I hope not the last.”

“The sprint was a bit sad,” said Scandolara. “I saw Loren crashing. I have seen the video now – and I didn’t realize that a spectator had hit here until I saw it. I was happy for the sprint I had but more sad for the terrible crash that Loren had.”

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Drentse 8 is a prelude to the Ronde van Drenthe on Saturday, the first of ten single day races that make up the World Cup series. Novilon, the final race in the Drenthe region, takes place on Sunday.

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