Wednesday, December 1

Elisa Balsamo defeats tearful Marianne Vos for the road race world title | Cycling


Breaking the script written by Dutch women in the last four world championships, Italy’s Elisa Balsamo snatched the road race title from the noses of a dominant Dutch team. One of the greatest of all time in the sport, Marianne Vos, ended up crying, less than a bike away after a grueling 157 km around Flanders.

Balsamo, the 2016 youth world champion, and the rest of the Italian team played a blind tactic by falling behind in the final 50km before the finish line in Leuven as the Dutch squandered their strength in a constant series of unsuccessful moves, and other nations were wasting theirs. with consistent responses, as the platoon was reduced to a front group of about 25.

The 23-year-old from Piedmont and two of her teammates moved to the front in the final kilometer, with Vos perfectly positioned in their wake as Balsamo opened the final sprint. Vos’ sprint has secured two classic one-day victories this year, but the 2012 Olympic champion couldn’t find her final kick and finished just under a bike from her fourth road world title. A sixth silver medal in a road race was little consolation.

“My teammates gave me the perfect advantage,” said Balsamo, who ended the Dutch monopoly on the title that dates back to 2017. “After the last corner I turned off my brain and said I had to go full throttle.”

Poland’s Katarzyna Niewiadoma took the bronze medal behind Vos, who was able to reflect on a day when her Dutch teammates attacked relentlessly in the last hour, placing seven riders in the final selection, and with the 2019 champion Annemiek van Vleuten, in particular stretching the survivors with one frenetic acceleration after another.

On a day of contrasting fortunes for Britain, Lizzie Deignan struggled with the wear and tear nature of the course. He finished 14th after failing to feature in the final sprint having struggled to get back to the front after being on the wrong side of a division on the penultimate lap.

“I felt completely out of speed,” said the 2015 world champion. “It was a war of attrition, stressful all day.”

Deignan praised one of Britain’s strongest performances he has seen in many years, with Pfeiffer Georgi and Anna Henderson by his side until near the end, with Henderson working on the ground to neutralize most of the attacks from Vos’ teammates. .

At ages 20 and 22 respectively, Georgi and Henderson offered a glimpse into the future, and there was another when Welsh cyclist Zoe Bäckstedt gave Great Britain its first gold from this year’s championships with a dominating victory in the race for the women’s junior title, beating the American. Kaia Schmid after five laps of the 15-kilometer circuit in Leuven.

Britain's Zoe Bäckstedt after winning the junior road race at the Flanders world championships
Britain’s Zoe Bäckstedt after winning the junior road race at the Flanders world championships. Photography: Shutterstock

Bäckstedt had already taken the silver medal in the time trial and improved after attacking with Schmid for the third time on the narrow and partially cobbled climb of Sint-Antoniusberg.

They quickly built a one-minute lead, aided by a clash in the remnants of the chasing group, after which the fate of the gold and silver medals was clear and only Bäckstedt was left to overtake his breakaway partner.

The 17-year-old from Pontypridd hails from one of Britain’s most notable cycling families. Her older sister, Elynor, took two bronze medals in junior races in 2018 and 2019 and now races with Deignan’s professional team Trek-Segafredo, while her mother, Megan (née Hughes), is a former British champion of road racing and his father, Magnus, won the Paris-Roubaix One-Day Classic in 2004.

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“I think I had a slow puncture the whole race,” said Bäckstedt. “At one point I could feel like I was a little flat, but from cyclo-cross I know I can use a tire that has a little less air, I just have to be a little more careful when cornering.

“I knew if I could get to the last corner first, I could do it at my speed and she couldn’t get away from me, so I took it first and took it into a sprint and it worked perfectly. . “


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