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It was the third weekend in a row with UCI Women’s WorldTour action on the calendar. After last weekend’s races in Holland, the peloton returned to Italy for the Trofeo Alfredo Binda today. A course for the climbers, Trofeo Binda had been a World Cup event for several years and was won by Lizzie Armitstead (Boels-Dolmans), Emma Johansson (Wiggle High5) and Elisa Longo Borghini (Wiggle High5) in the past three years.
The hometown favourite, Longo Borghini, would very much have liked to repeat her win of 2013, but unfortunately had to withdraw due to illness. Instead it was last year’s winner, Lizzie Armitstead, who defended her win and earned herself another Women’s WorldTour victory. She takes back the leader’s jersey from Anna van der Breggen, and this win makes it three-for-three for the dominating Boels-Dolman team.
The WorldTour standings before the race
The second round of the Women’s WorldTour took place in the Ronde van Drenthe last weekend and it turned out to be a real Dutch party, with the win going to Chantal Blaak (Boels-Dolmans), Anna van der Breggen (Rabo-Liv) taking over the UCIWWT leader’s jersey after Armitstead (Boels-Dolmans) gave up feeling sick, and Floortje Mackaij (Liv-Plantur) the new leader in the young rider classification.
The differences were still small, with Van der Breggen only 10 points ahead of the Boels-Dolmans duo Blaak and Armitstead in the UCIWWT classification.
With these positions in the overall classification, Boels-Dolmans and Rabo-Liv were expected to be the ones making the race hard today, both having their eyes on the Women’s WorldTour leader’s jersey — Rabo-Liv trying to defend it, Boels-Dolmans attempting to get it back.
How the race went down:
In addition to Longo Boghini, other notable withdrawals for today where Evelyn Stevens (Boels Dolman’s), who was also ill, and Team Liv-Plantur’s Riejanne Markus crashed during the recon ride yesterday and suffered some injuries to her face.
Cycling Sport Promotion (the organisers behind Trofeo Alfredo Binda) offered an extensive live ticker as well as live images from the finish line. So while we’re anxiously waiting for the first UCI Women’s WorldTour race to be completely livestreamed, like some of the World Cup races last year, we are thankful to CSP and hope other Women’s WorldTour race organisers, that don’t have the financial means to offer a full livestream, will look to them as an example.
The Trofeo Alfredo Binda always finishes in Cittiglio, but uses a different route to get there every year. Today, the peloton started in Garivate for a 15 kilometer build up to a long lap with both the Cunardo and Orino climb in it, followed by four local laps with the Orino climb again. QOM points were awarded at the top of the Cunardo climb and the four Orino climbs in the local laps, but this prize isn’t part of the Women’s WorldTour.
Each organisation can decide whether to include a mountain or sprint classification in their race and the Trofeo Binda had both this year.
The start shot in Garivate
Emilia Fahlin (Alé Cipollini) was the first to attack and was given around 18 seconds by the peloton. There’s a saying for this in the Dutch (amateur) cycling scene: the rider that attacks right from the start is the one who “goes for the Pink Bear classification” and Fahlin did this today. She was caught a short five minutes later. You have to give her credits for trying though, and for representing an Italian team in this Italian race.
Within the first 25 kilometers, the first intermediate sprint was set at Cuveglio and was won by Italian rider Simone Frapporti (Team Hitec). Because Rabo-Liv was pushing the tempo really hard at the front in defense of Anna van der Breggen’s leader’s jersey, no one was able to get away after Fahlin. It was also because of these team efforts that Rabo-Liv’s Thalita de Jong was able to win the second intermediate sprint.
In the Trofeo Binda, the climbs are longer than in the Ronde van Drenthe last weekend, where QOM points were up for grabs at the top of the VAM-berg, so today the points would go to ‘real’ climbers. Cervélo-Bigla’s Ashleigh Moolman took the first points at the top of the Cunardo climb, showing good legs for today.
After the climbs, the situation on the road changed constantly with groups splintering and regrouping. Eventually, a group of around 30 women eventually distanced themselves, later splitting in two equal groups, each with 15 seconds to the group behind. Ahead of them a two-person break, consisting of Carmen Small (Cervélo-Bigla) and Ann-Sophie Duyck (Topsport-Vlaanderen), managed to ride away off the front.
Both excellent time triallists, it was an interesting breakaway and especially beneficial to race favourite Moolman. With a teammate in the break, it gave her a luxury position in the chase group.
Small and Duyck crossed the finish line 1’12” ahead of the peloton, commencing their first circuit lap. They were followed by a compact peloton, that had all come back together between the descent of the Orino and the finish line. When it looked like the peloton was closing in on the lead duo, Small decided to leave Duyck behind. Duyck was caught by the peloton just before the top of the Orino in the first circuit lap, at which point Small still had 25 seconds and took the QOM points. The seconds faded away towards the third crossing of the finish line though and the peloton was all together when the cameras caught the third crossing at the finish.
Suddenly, there were reports of a big crash, just outside the reach of the camera at the finish line. Megan Guarnier (Boels-Dolmans) was caught up in it as was Van der Breggen. Although Van der Breggen had teammate De Jong to bring her back, she had to have a bike change as well, not making it an easy lap for the Women’s WorldTour leader. Both Van der Breggen and Guarnier were able to get back to the bunch but it had cost them some energy.
The second QOM on the Orino climb went to Jolanda Neff (Servetto Footon), the Swiss mountainbiker who is always a force to be reckoned with. She was in the group of six riders that made the winning move on the penultimate climb up the Orino in 2015.
The same manoeuvre was performed at the exact same place this year. Eight riders got away on the second to last climb up the Orino, interestingly only Moolman of the favourites missing out. The group consisted of Armitstead and Guarnier (Boels-Dolmans), Van der Breggen and Niewiadoma (Rabo-Liv), Johansson (Wiggle High5), Alena Amialiusik (Canyon-SRAM), Neff (Servetto Footon) and Annemiek van Vleuten (Orica-AIS). Johansson took the QOM points on the top of the climb.
At 20 kilometers to go, the gap was over a minute, so it really was the winning move again. Neff decided the break wasn’t going fast enough though, leaving her seven companions behind in the final lap and quickly opening up the gap to 15 seconds. While Tiffany Cromwell (Canyon-SRAM) tried to escape the bunch, getting herself into a chasse patate, Neff’s advantage only grew.
Crossing the top of the Orino climb solo for the final time, Neff took the full QOM points again. In the chase group Van Vleuten got dropped when the tempo increased in an effort to get Neff back. It was looking promising for Neff until Armitstead attacked in the final five kilometers.
When Armitstead reached Neff, their gap had diminished to only 5 seconds as they entered the final kilometer. The exciting finale finished with the world champion earning yet another win for Boels-Dolmans. Armitstead’s teammate, Guarnier, was able to reach Neff just in time to finish second, leaving Neff to settle with third – still a phenomenal performance by the mountainbiker in this WorldTour road race.
Van der Breggen crossed the finish line in sixth, behind Johansson and Amialiusik. The leader’s jersey went back to Armitstead while Niewiadoma remains the leader in the young rider classification.
Be sure to come back tomorrow for a full photo gallery with photo’s from the fantastic Vélofocus duo.
For now, relive all the action through this RAI Sport 1 highlights video.
Trofeo Alfredo Binda - Comune di Cittiglio (1.WWT) Gavirate → Cittiglio
Women’s WorldTour standings
1. Lizzie Armitstead (Boels-Dolmans) – 240 points
2. Anna van der Breggen (Rabo-Liv) – 180 points
3. Emma Johansson (Wiggle High5) – 155 points
Young rider classification
1. Kasia Niewiadoma (Rabo-Liv) – 12 points
2. Floortje Mackaij (Liv-Plantur) – 6 points
3. Jip van den Bos (Parkhotel Valkenburg) – 4 points