UCI World Championships - Laura Stigger claims women's junior title in second ever road race
Laura Stigger (Austria) triumphed on home roads to claim the junior women’s road race at the World Championships in Innbsruck.
She proved the quickest in a four-up sprint at the finish, beating Marie Le Net (France) into second place while Simone Boilard (Canada) took the bronze medal.
Stigger sparked the winning move on the tough final climb of Igls. Taking advantage of her local knowledge, Stigger bided her time as an aggressive Russian team whittled down the front group on the lower slopes, but then launched a stinging acceleration nearer the summit.
Only Boilard and Barbara Malcotti (Italy) could come with her, and that trio had a lead of almost half a minute when they crested the summit with 15km remaining. Le Net produced a fine descent to latch back on to the front group, and she battled gamely to stay in touch when Stigger again forced the pace on a short rise on the entry to Innsbruck.
Le Net launched an attack of her with a little over a kilometre to go, but her move was shut down by Boilard. Malcotti led out the four-rider sprint, and Stigger timed her effort to perfection to pip Le Net to the rainbow jersey.
The win was even more remarkable given Stigger is a mountain bike racer by trade. She admitted she had no expectation of winning the race at all in an interview with Eurosport:
“It’s incredible to win in my hometown,” Stigger said after her victory. “Thanks to the people for standing on the course and cheering me on. It’s a very tight victory. My legs were burning in the sprint. This morning I didn’t believe I had any chance of winning because it’s only my second road race. I just wanted to have fun, and now I’m the world champion. It’s unbelievable.
“My focus was on mountain biking, and after those World Championships, I then started to look to these road Worlds.
"My preparation was similar to mountain biking. I live about 50km away and so I often trained on the course; I rode the climbs, [including] the last climb, where I attacked, which was my favourite climb.”