Anna van der Breggen has won the world road championships on Saturday after an impressive solo ride. She had plenty of time to celebrate as she arrived at the finish line, taking her long sought-after world title. The gold medal and world title add to her double silver performance at the team time trial and individual time trial earlier this week. Van der Breggen was joined on the podium by Amanda Spratt (Mitchelton-Scott, Australia) and Tatiana Guderzo (Team Hitec, Italy).
The Olympic champion and former European champion succeeds her teammate and compatriot Chantal Blaak as the wearer of the rainbow jersey. For the fourth year in a row, Boels-Dolmans Cycling Team will be home to the world road champion, after Lizzie Deignan won the event in Richmond, USA in 2015 and Amalie Dideriksen in Qatar in 2016. It was an emotional win for the usually very down to earth Van der Breggen.
"That's because of the long build-up to this event, it's quite a stressful preparation ahead of the world championships," explained Van der Breggen. "I knew this was the perfect course for me, but it was such a long wait to get here. This morning, I didn't want to see anyone and thought: just let us get on the bikes. This was a big goal for me and it wasn't a secret, so there was a lot coming at me. I didn't expect to win like this."
After exciting world road races in the junior and U23 categories, the anticipation was high for the women’s elite race. The women did not disappoint, with Team NL lining up as the absolute favourites today. A lead group formed on the climb to Gnadenwald, with lots of Dutch riders represented indeed.
Everything came back together in the descend, though, after which several groups got off the front shortly, Boels-Dolmans regularly represented in these groups as well. None of these groups were given more than 1’15” advantage, but the last one contained Spratt, a dangerous outsider for the win. Therefore Van der Breggen made her race-winning move in the second lap.
"Spratt was off the front and we know we can't give her too much space," said Van der Breggen. "Lucinda [Brand] therefore tried to keep the gap to a minimum but attacking and later just pulling at the front. Then Annemiek [van Vleuten] opened with an attack. We couldn't wait any longer. That was the beginning, I attacked after that."
Spratt was able to stay in Van der Breggen's wheel the longest, but eventually had to let her go too at 40 kilometers from the finish line. Like we know from Van der Breggen's previous victories, long solos are no problem for her. With a little help from her compatriots in the peloton, Van der Breggen only increased her lead in the final 40 kilometres of the race, cheered on by the numerous fans along the road. She was able to start celebrating well before reaching the finish line.
"I thought it was early to go, but I reached Spratt quite quickly," said Van der Breggen. "Then I was by myself early on, so I just had to focus on eating and drinking well, and pacing. I knew I had to do that climb again by myself. I also had barely any info on what the time gap was, how far I was off the front."
"At one point, I knew that my advantage hovered around two minutes on the climb, but I have experienced way too often this season that either I did something wrong or that I was caught back. So I just kept on riding."
Spratt soloed her way to a silver medal, while Guderzo managed to take bronze by attacking out of the peloton with one lap to go, together with Karol-Ann Canuel and Amy Pieters. Canuel added a sixth place to her eighth place in the individual time trial, Pieters finished eighth. In her very last road race, Megan Guarnier finished sixteenth.