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Marianne Vos of the Netherlands matched Nicole Cooke’s 2008 feat of winning both the Olympic and World Road titles in the same season as she and her team-mates dominated a fascinating World title race in Limburg. GB’s Emma Pooley was involved with the main action for much of the race, but missed the winning move and with it went her chances of a medal.
The race began in relatively prosaic fashion, but a huge pile-up towards the end of the second lap, at the top of the Cauberg climb, which was to be at the heart of much of the day’s action, sparked off six laps of almost non-stop action.
Katie Colclough and Pooley were both delayed by the crash, but made contact with the main field again after a chase, though Colclough was seen to be bleeding from a nasty looking mouth injury.
The American team took advantage of the confusion after the crash to up the pace and launch a series of attacks, which although not gaining any traction in themselves, did reduce the number of riders able to re-join the main field.
Attacks then came and went with regularity and GB’s Sharon Laws was briefly involved in a break on the fifth lap of eight, but once that had been brought back the significant moves of the race happened in quick succession.
Firstly another small group, including Van Der Breggen (Ned), Neben (USA), Becker (Ger), Ratto (Ita), and Neylan (Aus) broke free and soon built up a half minute gap over the field. Then, as the field tackled the Cauberg for the sixth time, Marianne Vos made a huge move, bridging to the leaders in a minute or so, dragging Italian Longo Borghini with her.
Vos came off Pooley’s wheel to launch this attack, but through a combination of being momentarily blocked and an inability to respond to Vos’s vicious acceleration, the GB rider wasn’t able to join the move.
The lead group now had two Dutch and two Italian riders and this motivated quartet rapidly drove them clear of the rest of the race. Another vicious move by Vos up the Cauberg for the penultimate time reduced the lead group to just herself, Van Der Breggen (Ned), Neben (USA) and Neylan (Aus).
At the bell they led the main field by almost 3 minutes and knew they would decide the medals between them.
At the bottom of the Cauberg on the last lap, Neylan made her move with Longo Borghini and Vos going with her. Vos then simply rode away from the other two to solo in, grabbing a Dutch flag in the last few metres as she celebrated an emphatic and beautifully executed win for herself and the well-drilled Dutch team. Neylan was second and Longo Borghini third, but Der Breggen was also cheered in as the crowd recognised her selfless contribution to Vos’s win.
Pooley finished as the first British rider home, part of the leading fragment of the main field, but she will have been disappointed to have missed the key move of the race.
1 Marianne Vos (Netherlands) 3:14:29
2 Rachel Neylan (Australia) 0:00:10
3 Elisa Longo Borghini (Italy) 0:00:18
4 Amber Neben (United States of America) 0:00:33
5 Anna Van Der Breggen (Netherlands) 0:00:55
6 Rossella Ratto (Italy) 0:03:40
7 Linda Villumsen (New Zealand) 0:04:37
8 Judith Arndt (Germany)
9 Emma Johansson (Sweden)
10 Paulina Brzezna-Bentkowska (Poland)
15 Emma Pooley (Great Britain) 0:04:37
39 Sharon Laws (Great Britain) 0:04:58
60 Nicole Cooke (Great Britain) @ 0:05:39
66 Nikki Harris (Great Britain) @ 0:05:39