Chantal Blaak finished second in the Trofeo Alfredo Binda on Sunday. Round three of the Women’s WorldTour was won by Kasia Niewiadoma (Canyon-SRAM), who arrived solo at the finish line. Behind her, the world champion was the fastest out of a group of nine, ahead of Marianne Vos (Waowdeals Pro Cycling) in third place. Karol-Ann Canuel finished eighth.
“I’m satisfied for sure,” said Blaak. “It’s no shame that I couldn’t follow Kasia on the climb. The best I could do today was get second and that’s what I did. So I’m happy.”
Blaak, Canuel and Megan Guarnier all played major roles in the final, after Boels-Dolmans controlled the race in the first half with Jip van den Bos, Amalie Dideriksen and Anna Plichta. Nothing important happened on the initial route and the big loop. It was only on the climb of the Orino, in the local lap, where action started to happen. Four local laps had to be completed and the peloton was already reduced considerably after the first lap.
Alena Amialiusik (Canyon-SRAM) and Ane Santesteban (Ale Cipollini) attacked out of the reduced bunch on the second ascent of the Orino. With the two off the front, Guarnier decided to launch a counter-attack. She was joined by Malgorzata Jasinska (Movistar) and the two joined the leaders. The four women worked well together and built a gap of 58 seconds on the small peloton.
Inside the last 25 kilometres, the sprint teams started to slowly reel the quartet back in. Team Sunweb initiated the chase, but Mitchelton-Scott, Wiggle-High5 and Valcar-PBM started to take turns too. The four leaders were caught at 13 kilometres from the finish line and immediately Canuel accelerated. The Canadian time trial champion impressed today with a strong performance from start to finish. Her acceleration led to a lead group of thirteen, in which Blaak and Guarnier were represented again as well.
The winning move of Niewiadoma came on the final climb of the Orino. She attacked out of the 13-rider group and continued to push the pedals on the downhill and in the final four kilometres to the finish line. Lucy Kennedy (Mitchelton-Scott) and Elisa Longo Borghini (Wiggle-High5) both had hopes of catching her, but eventually nine women arrived in the finishing straight together and a sprint would determine the numbers two and three. Niewiadoma was joined on the podium by the world champion and European champion.
“We all rode very strong today,” concluded Blaak. “Going into the final with three riders in a group of thirteen is just really good. The fact that it was such a small group in the end says enough. It was tough, a real elimination race. This was proper racing and the weather was a major factor too. The wet and cold really wore us out.”
Next week sees the first Women’s WorldTour race in Belgium with Gent-Wevelgem on Sunday 25 March.