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While Megan Guarnier (Boels-Dolmans) had already secured the overall Women’s WorldTour victory going into today’s penultimate Women’s WorldTour event, the team wasn’t planning on just sitting in as they aimed for their 11th team win.
And sure enough, when the livestream started one-and-a-half hours into the race, it was indeed Boels-Dolmans on screen, dictating the speed in the race. But they were not alone with Canyon-SRAM, Liv-Plantur and Rabo-Liv all racing aggressively. Yet the winner would come from none of the top teams as today’s GP de Plouay was won by a surprise winner: Eugenia Bujak of the Slovenian BTC City Ljublana team.
Tucked in neatly in a breakaway group of 15, Bujak outsprinted her competitors and with it, delivered her team the biggest win yet.
2016 GP de Plouay-Bretagne
1. Eugenia Bujak (BTC City Ljubljana)
2. Elena Cecchini (Canyon-SRAM)
3. Joëlle Numainville (Cervélo-Bigla)
Check out the full results on the CyclingTips results page and watch the highlights of the race here:
How the race unfolded
The Canyon-SRAM rider moods that were tweeted before the start of the race were hilarious as ever and pretty accurate (what’s a unicorn mood though?!) as Alena Amialiusik was the first of the bigger names to try something at 45 kilometers from the finish line.
— CANYON//SRAM Racing (@WMNcycling) August 27, 2016
It was the second attack of the day (that we know of), with Spela Kern (BTC City Ljubljana) having had an advantage of about 55 seconds in the second lap at one point.
Amialiusik’s attack strung out the peloton and ultimately caused the peloton to break in two. Young rider jersey wearer Kasia Niewiadoma (Rabo-Liv) reacted to Amialiusik’s attack immediately, thinning out the lead group even more.
But the attack was neutralized and Boels-Dolmans took up its position at the front of the peloton again, like they did almost the entire race.
After a short attack by home rider Eugénie Duval (PC Futuroscope), who finished fourth in the Trophée d’Or Féminin last week, Armitstead powered up the pace and caused quite a few riders to get dropped at the back.
Three of the four big laps completed, only the fittest and smartest riders remained in the lead two groups with many riders getting dropped off the backs of the groups. It seemed that the winner woud come from a group of 22 riders, which had all the big names included. On the fast and technical descent of the Côte du Lezot, 2014 GP Plouay winner Lucinda Brand (Rabo-Liv) took off using her superb technical skills to ride away from the group.
Knowing her capabilities, however, Boels-Dolmans put in some work to catch Brand, and the race was headed into an aggressive final.
Marianne Vos (Rabo-Liv), Niewiadoma and Elisa Longo Borghini (Wiggle-High5) took turns attacking. Yet none of the attacks stuck until the field decided to let a duo of Margorzata Jasinska (Alé Cipollini) and Rozanne Slik (Liv-Plantur) dangle out ahead.
The duo was caught on the penultimate climb up the Côte de Ty Marrec. The climb proved too much for a handful of riders in the lead group including Armitstead and teammate Karol-Ann Canuel. Guarnier was now the only Boels-Dolmans left in the lead group to deliver the team another Women’s WorldTour win.
Fifteen favourites entered the final 13.9 kilometer lap of the race together and were trying to attack each other to take a solo win.
While a sprint would have suited her, Leah Kirchmann (Liv-Plantur) didn’t want to take any chances and attacked on the Côte du Lezot and quikcly increased her lead to 20 seconds when the pack failed to work together.
But the Côte de Ty Marrec was too steep for the Liv-Plantur rider and when she was caught, six riders split off from the rest. With just 3.5 kilometres to go, it was Longo Borghini, Amialiusik, Niewiadoma, Katrin Garfoot (Orica-AIS), Guarnier and Joëlle Numainville (Cervélo-Bigla) who broke off.
Yet the chasers were able to reel them at the 1km sign and so 15 riders sprinted for the finish line. With the speed she developed, it looked like Italian road champion Elena Cecchini (Canyon-SRAM) was going to take the win, but she revved up just too late and it was Eugenia Bujak (BTC City Ljubljana) who took the surprise win, ahead of Cecchini and Numainville.
— UCIWomenCycling (@UCIWomenCycling) 27 August 2016
While it may not have been the result Boels-Dolmans hoped for, Guarnier has obviously increased her Women’s WorldTour position even more by finishing fifth and behind her, Harris, Armitstead and Kasia Pawlowska gave their teammate Evelyn Stevens some much appreciated attention, as it was Stevens’ last road race with the team as she plans to retire after the world championships.
Cervélo-Bigla DS Thomas Campana was pretty happy with third place for Numainville, which means another Women’s WorldTour podium finish for the team. “There were big sprinters in the group so for Joëlle I think it is an unbelievable day. The team has another podium in a WorldTour race so it’s impressive. It shows the consistency in the team and works together as a unit.”
Women’s WorldTour standings after GP de Plouay
1. Megan Guarnier (Boels-Dolmans) – 914
2. Leah Kirchmann (Liv-Plantur) – 586
3. Lizzie Armitstead (Boels-Dolmans) – 545
4. Evelyn Stevens (Boels-Dolmans) – 519
5. Elisa Longo Borghini (Wiggle-High5) – 511
Young rider classification
1. Kasia Niewiadoma (Rabo-Liv) – 36
2. Floortje Mackaij (Liv-Plantur) – 18
3. Jip van den Bos (Parkhotel Valkenburg) – 14
The inaugural Women’s WorldTour finishes at La Madrid Challege by la Vuelta on September 11.