The Dutch are as dominant as ever in women’s cycling, so all eyes will be on orange squad. Anna van der Breggen and Annemiek van Vleuten stand out, as they are the best climbers of the team. This could also raise problem – who will be the leader? Usually, they race for different teams, but now they have to work together. Being 35 years of age and with a route that matches her talents, the road race in Innsbruck is possibly Van Vleuten’s last chance to ride into the rainbow bands. Yet, Van der Breggen definitely does not intend to efface herself. The World Championships road race has been her major goal once the route was published. Even to an extent that she skipped the Giro Rosa, which is the most important multi-day stage race for women. Instead she opted to prepare for the Worlds.
At 156.7 kilometres, the course of the women’s road race in Innsbruck features 2,413 vertical metres. The race ends with three 23.9 kilometres laps on a circuit with a 7.9 kilometres climb at 5.7% standing out. Following the last passage over the top it is still 13.5 kilometres out. Firstly a 7.5 kilometres drop down and then a flat 6 kilometeres run-in to the line.
In the hilly races of 2018 Van der Breggen and Van Vleuten were head and shoulders above their rivals. Van der Breggen won Strade Bianche, La Flèche Wallonne and Liège-Bastogne-Liège, while Van Vleuten took the Giro Rosa and La Course. Amanda Spratt, Van Vleuten’s team mate at Mitchelton-Scott, bested the two Dutch powerhouses in Emakumeen Bira, a four-day stage race in the Basque Country.
The route of last July’s La Course was similar to the Worlds’ road race. At 112.5 kilometres, the event in the French Alps featured 2,139 vertical metres. It came down to the last climb, Col de la Colombière. Anna van der Breggen, Annemiek van Vleuten and Ashleigh Moolman were the only contenders left when Van der Breggen attacked 1 kilometre before the top. She crested with the two chasers within 10 seconds, but while descending Moolman was distanced and Van Vleuten kept pushing. The drop down continued for some 10 kilometres with a gap of 5 to 10 seconds. On the false flat to the line Van Vleuten mustered all her strengths for the final ordeal and dramatically snatched victory in the final few metres.
Favourites World Championships Road Race women
*** Anna van der Breggen, Annemiek van Vleuten
** Amanda Spratt, Elisa Longo Borghini, Ashleigh Moolman
* Megan Guarnier, Katarzyna Niewiadoma, Eider Merino