The Rabo-Liv squad swept the podium at the GP de Plouay on Saturday, putting Lucinda Brand on the top step, as Lizzie Armitstead (Boels Dolmans) claimed the overall title in the 2014 UCI Women’s Road World Cup.
The 121km race north of Plouay in Brittany was the final event in the series.
Brand soloed to the win by nearly a minute ahead of teammates Marianne Vos and Pauline Ferrand Prevot, who crossed second and third, respectively.
“I never believed I was actually going to win this,” said the 25-year-old Dutchwoman. “This year I have been very close to wins and just missed out by meters or even centimeters. That has left me with a bit of a trauma.
“But I heard what my gap was in the final and knew that I was not going to lose 50 seconds in the final two kilometers.”
The decisive move came 50km from the line. Vos launched a breakaway that soon included teammates Brand, Ferrand Prevot and Anna van der Breggen; Armitstead; Emma Johansson (Orica-AIS); Elisa Longo Borghini (Hitec Products); Tiffany Cromwell (Specialized-lululemon); Rosella Ratto (Estado de Mexico); and Alena Amialiusik (Astana-Be Pink).
The break was down to eight with less than 14km remaining when Brand made her move.
“I knew I wasn’t the strongest on the climb, so I had to let the group go there, but I saved energy and there still was something left in the legs. The others maybe expected something from the stronger riders and then I had a chance,” she said.
She built up a lead of almost a minute but saw that dwindle to 30 seconds on the Côte de Ty Marec, with gradients exceeding 10 percent. But the chase group included Vos, Van der Breggen and Ferrand-Prevot, and they weren’t doing any work.
Brand held on to take the victory, her first in a World Cup event. And 56 seconds later, Vos sprinted to second with Ferrand-Prevot right behind.
“It was a hard race and we attacked several times,” the world champion said. “Lucinda is always there for the team and today she wins this race. We all had our chances but in the end the one who makes the break takes it. I am very happy for her.”
As for Armitstead, who finished eighth on the day, crossing with the first chase, she was delighted to claim the World Cup crown.
“I showed I was one of the strongest on the road today,” Armitstead said. “There were just so many riders for Rabo-Liv and in the end I didn’t have the legs anymore for the sprint. But I won the overall World Cup and that was one of my career goals so I am happy.”