Less than 24 hours after winning the Prudential RideLondon, Barbara Guarischi (Velocio-SRAM) took her first World Cup win at Sparkassen Giro. The Italian sprinted across the finish line in Bochum, Germany ahead of Lucinda Brand (Rabo Liv) and Emilie Moberg (Hitec Products). Lizzie Armitstead (Boels-Dolmans) managed 11th place to maintain her spot atop the UCI Women Road World Cup series following the seventh of ten rounds.
“In the first lap, I didn’t feel good,” admitted Guarischi. “After three laps, I spoke with our captain Trixi [Worrack] about how I felt, and she convinced me to be patient. In the middle, I still didn’t feel great, but the team put their confidence in me. And in the end, I could still deliver.”
“This team is amazing,” Guarischi added. “It’s really too much.”
Before the start of the 124 kilometre circuit race, there was a minute of silence for Chiara Pierobon (Top Girls-Fasso Bartolo). The 22-year-old died en route to the race of a suspected pulmonary embolism. Her team elected not to start the World Cup on Sunday.
There were two former winners amongst the 153 starters in Christine Majerus (Boels-Dolmans) and Hanka Kupfernagel (German National Team). Both won the race before it achieved World Cup status last year – Majerus in 2013 and Kupfernagel in 2007. Defending champion Marianne Vos remains sidelined with injury – and while she did not start the race, she was on hand to support her Rabo Liv teammates.
Earmarked as a race for the sprinters, Sparkassen Giro featured eight laps of a 15.5km circuit. Each laps included a technical final kilometre and a mid-lap ascent of the Henkenbergstrasse, a short but sharp climb. Although the likely outcome of the seventh round of the World Cup was a field sprint, that did not stop teams from attempting to get riders up the road.
Claudia Lichtenberg (Liv Plantur) was the first rider to gain any sort of sizeable gap over the peloton. The German attacked in the second lap and pocketed 16 seconds over the bunch before she was overtaken in the build-up to the Henkenbergstrasse.
A dangerous breakaway of Kasia Niewiadoma (Rabo Liv), Valentina Scandolara (Orica-AIS) and Lisa Brennauer (Velocio-SRAM) slipped away on lap three. When the trio was joined by Chantal Blaak (Boels-Dolmans) and Elisa Longo Broghini (Wiggle Honda) on lap four, the peloton shut down the move.
Carlee Taylor (Lotto Soudal) and Kathrin Hammes (TIBCO-SVB) were the next to break from the bunch. The duo was caught before the fifth passage of the finish line.
An attack by Lizzie Armitstead (Boels-Dolmans) on lap six briefly split the peloton. An elite group of 11 took shape over the top of the Henkenbergstrasse. The move was short-lived, and by the start of lap seven, the peloton was back together.
The action continued in the final two laps. The pace remained high and the attacks plentiful but nothing was allowed more than a 20 second advantage. Following the final ascent of the Henkenbergstrasse, a front group of 20 split from the peloton – and it would be from this group that Guarischi would sprint to victory.
“For the sprint, it was all about the lead-out,” said the 25-year-old. “It started with Alena [Amialiusik], and Tiff [Cromwell] was there in front at 600 metres to go. It was early, but we didn’t panic. “
“Before the last corner, I saw Brand try and come fast,” Guarischi noted. “She was the first into the corner with Jolien [d’Hoore] (Wiggle Honda) on her wheel. Tiff kept it high through the corner and kept our good work going. She gave me the space, and I was exactly hard on the wheel of Brand.”
“It was exactly like the Giro,” Guarischi added, referencing her stage win over Brand at the Giro Rosa last month. “Then we sprinted. I won it only in the last metre. It was just the throw of the bike.”
The UCI Women Road World Cup continues on August 21-23 in Vargarda, Sweden with the team time trial (round eight – August 21) and the road race (round nine – August 23).
Rabobank-Liv Woman Cycling Team