FLORENCE (VN) — Marianne Vos (Netherlands) added another rainbow jersey to her collection on Saturday at the UCI Road World Championships.
The 140km race was peppered with attacks throughout, and with 40km to go Tiffany Cromwell (Australia) and Lucinda Brand (Netherlands) were off the front.
They wouldn’t stay there, but after the leaders got caught, Brand attacked again, this time taking Italy’s Rossella Ratto with her, and the two were pulled back in with just over 30km remaining as Team USA led the chase.
More attacks followed, including digs by Trixi Worrack (Germany) and Evelyn Stevens (USA), who was marked by Vos and a half-dozen others.
All the action forged a lead group of seven: Vos and teammate Anna Van der Breggen; Stevens; Ratto, Tatiana Guderzo and Elisa Longo Borghini (Italy); and Emma Johansson (Sweden). Cromwell eventually latched back on, too.
There was plenty of talking going on between the two Dutchwomen and the three Italians going into the bell lap, and while the two groups formulated strategy Linda Villumsen (New Zealand), Claudia Häusler (Germany) and Tatiana Antoshina (Russia) caught up with them.
The pace fell, briefly, and then the attacks began on the first climb, with everyone eager to drop Vos. Häusler was having trouble matching the pace.
Stevens accelerated and split the group, taking Vos and three others with her. As the others fought back on Van der Breggen jumped, and only Vos, Stevens, Ratto and Johansson stuck with her.
On the final trip up the Via Salviati Stevens punched it early, but Vos hit it even harder and put a big chunk of daylight between her and the others. She was alone going over the top and powered on with just a handful of kilometers to go.
Johansson and Ratto launched a desperate chase, but Vos had her head down and her legs churning, using every inch of road in the corners and occasionally glancing over one shoulder to gauge the pursuit.
Going under the red kite she had her forearms draped over the bars in time-trial mode and it was clear that her pursuers were racing for second. Vos had more than enough time to sit up and celebrate en route to the line. It was her third road title, following victories in 2012 and 2006.
Johansson took second with Ratto third, both at 15 seconds. Van der Breggen t0ok fourth at 33 seconds with Stevens fifth at 46 seconds.