Dominant Anna van der Breggen doubles up with second gold medal
Even though defending champion Annemiek van Vleuten surprised everyone to be passed fit for Saturday's road race there was no stopping Anna van der Breggen. After a solo attack she powered away from the rest of the pack to take her second gold medal of the World Championships.
Netherlands' Anna van der Breggen celebrates on the podium after winning the Women's Elite Road Race, a 143-kilometer route around Imola, Emilia-Romagna, Italy, on September 26, 2020 as part of the UCI 2020 Road World Championships
Sensational Van der Breggen takes second World Championships gold
Fellow Dutchwoman Annemiek van Vleuten took silver after narrowly beating Elisa Longo Borghini in the sprint for second. Marianne Vos won a small kick for fourth, beating out Lianne Lippert (GER), Lizzie Deignan (GBR) and Kasia Niewadoma (POL). Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig (DEN) was eighth, about 20 seconds after.
Battle for silver: Annemiek van Vleuten pips Elisa Longo Borghini in dramatic finish
"It’s incredible. It was a really hard race and there was fighting from the beginning. The climbs were really tough and on the penultimate lap I felt strong and we discussed in front trying to make the race hard. We did it and I just went for it," van der Breggen said.
The race was a slow-burn with an extended neutralisation and some opening salvoes not amounting to very much. The first meaningful attack came from Canada’s Alison Jackson, who was joined soon after by Grace Brown of Australia.
That duo eventually swelled to become the day’s breakaway, when a starry selection of riders was towed over by American Tayler Wiles.
'I never expected this!' - Van der Breggen reflects on second gold
It was not until the final 50km that things really came to life, with the forcing efforts of the top favourites effectively destroying the gap’s hefty cushion of advantage in a matter of a few short kilometres.
A powerful effort from Marianne Vos closed the gap finally, and then her team mate Annemiek van Vleuten took up the pace-making. The 2019 world champion was able to create a huge rift in the lead group, with only Van der Breggen, Longo Borghini and Uttrup Ludwig initially able to hang with the pace.
When the counter attack from van der Breggen eventually, inevitably arrived, she left everyone behind.
Watch the moment Anna van der Breggen attacked to win gold
For a while a chasing trio (with van Vleuten in the armchair seat not contributing) tried to bring her back, but the combined efforts of Deignan, Longo Borghini and Uttrup Ludwig were insufficient. They sat up to try and use the greater strength of the peloton to close on van der Breggen, but even all together they couldn’t stop her from building her lead.
On the final ascent of the Cima Gallisterna, van Vleuten and Longo Borghinin attacked one final time, breaking clear of the remaining chasers.
It is the first time since Jeannie Longo in 1995 that an athlete has won both road and time trial gold in the same year.
The race played out to the most popularly predicted narrative before the start; a dominant team display from the Dutch squad. The team lined up with all of the last three world champions on the road among their number, and played their tactics perfectly – allowing other teams to make the running until the race reached its business end.