The Italian team, which carried Elisa Balsamo to the title, inflicted another setback on their Dutch counterpart in the ladies’ race at the World Cycling Championships on Saturday afternoon in Leuven (Belgium).
Defeated at the Tokyo Olympics where the Austrian Anna Kiensehofer had successfully completed a long breakaway, the Dutch lost again, this time in the sprint. Marianne Vos (34), the most successful of the + Oranje +, took second place, one wheel away from the young Italian (23).
Balsamo, who took part in the Tokyo Olympics on the track, ended a streak of four world victories for the Netherlands. She returned the title to Italy who had been waiting for her since Giorgia Bronzini’s two winning sprints in 2010 and 2011.
« It would have been impossible without my team who did an extraordinary job », logically thanked the young Piedmontese native of Cuneo (north-west).
« We had to take her as close as possible to the line in the sprint, » confirmed her elder sister, Elisa Longo Borghini, who started the sprint to her compatriot on the false flat heading towards the line. At the expense of Vos, who found himself lonely in the sprint.
– Strict marking –
Vos, whose third world title dates back to 2013, has chosen to place himself in the wheel of Balsamo. But she was forced to follow a longer trajectory, outside the wide finish curve, and failed to bounce back from her rival.
« Do you realize that I beat Marianne Vos today? It’s crazy! » Exclaimed the young Italian, European champion hopes last year. « To say that next year I will wear this jersey … It all seems incredible to me. My boyfriend is at the finish line, my family is following me from home: I am happy to have given them this joy ».
The strict marking between Italy and the Netherlands, key to the race, therefore turned against the Dutch who took turns accelerating (Brand, van Vleuten, Blaak, van Dijk) in the last 60 kilometers. Their tactics had the effect of wearing down the sprinters, in particular the Belgian Lotte Kopecky (16th) and the American Coryn Rivera (10th), but the Italians resisted.
« We expected to see the Dutch run more aggressively, » noted Longo Borghini, third last year behind two … Dutch, Anna van der Breggen, who is ending her career this season, and Annemiek van Vleuten.
The French played a minor role despite the exit of Aude Biannic about thirty kilometers from the finish. « I miss very little to switch with the group for the sprint, it’s frustrating », regretted the first classified, the Breton Audrey Cordon-Ragot (27th).