Chantal Blaak was best of the rest at Trofeo Alfredo Binda on Sunday. The Dutchwoman sprinted in for fourth pace in the third round of the UCI Women’s WorldTour won by American Coryn Rivera (Team Sunweb). It is the first time in more than ten years that the Italian one-day classic has ended with more than nine riders.
“The race was passive and ultimately ended in a bunch sprint,” said two-time Trofeo Alfredo Binda winner Lizzie Deignan. “Chantal was our best option and managed a great fourth place.”
Deignan won a six-up sprint to take her first Trofeo Binda title in 2015. She repeated in 2016 with a late race attack meant to set-up teammate Megan Guarnier for victory. Earlier in the week, in the Boels-Dolmans Trofeo Binda preview, Deignan said the team would look to make the race hard enough to drop those that could challenge in a sprint in a bid for a third straight victory.
“That ideal was based on everybody being fit and healthy,” noted Deignan. “Unfortunately Anna [van der Breggen] was sick, Christine [Majerus] had allergy problems and Amy [Pieters] was not on a good day. I also wasn’t feeling very well, and we weren’t able to be as aggressive like we normally are.”
The early breakaways posed no threats. Groups of two or three and solo riders slipped away, building up a small advantage before the the peloton would overtake them on the climbs that punctuated the circuit around Cittiglio.
Van der Breggen and Majerus were early withdrawals. Pieters was also forced to pull the plug before fireworks flew.
“We had to save our energy for the winning moves as we didn’t have the numbers to play with in terms of adding to the overall game,” noted Deignan. “I would normally be aggressive in the climbs as would Anna and Karo, but today wasn’t our day. We had to follow instead of dictating.”
Australian road champion Katrin Garfoot (ORICA-SCOTT), UCI Women’s WorldTour leader Elisa Longo Borghini (Wiggle High5) and Kasia Niewiadoma (WM3 Cycling) over the top of the final ascent of the Ornio but it wasn’t enough to hold off the group chasing them down the technical descent to finish. Three kilometres from the finish, a 30-strong group readied for the bunch gallop.
“Chantal sprinted to fourth in a race that on paper isn’t best-suited to her,” noted Deignan. “That means her form is exactly where it should be in the run-in to the classics. I’m proud of everyone’s fighting spirit. Fingers crossed everyone makes a full recovery for the next race.
“We were obviously disappointed with the way the race unfolded but not disheartened,” Deignan added. “You can only do what your body is capable of and with more than a few of us fighting sickness, we came away happy that as a team, we committed to the best of our ability on the day. It’s not a disaster, just a blip.