Race report

Liane Lippert maintains lead of UCIWWT standings after hard fought edition of Strade Bianche

Strade Bianche

Women’s WorldTour racing returned today at Strade Bianche, the race known for combining short and steep climbs with several sections of testing gravel roads. With its new place on the calendar for this year’s revamped season, riders would also have to deal with searingly hot conditions as temperatures sky-rocketed above 35 degrees celsius.

The racing was on from the start as attacks flew and a fierce pace was set on the gravel sections. It soon became a race of attrition as riders struggled in the heat and dropped out the back of the bunch one-by-one. A mid-race lull in pace saw a reduced peloton together with 50 kilometres to go but an untimely mechanical for Liane Lippert saw her drop back just as attacks were made at the front.

A strong group of 11 riders from 11 different teams broke clear and quickly built up a one-minute advantage, before a counter-attack saw one rider go clear, increasing their gap even further. Coryn Rivera and Leah Kirchmann rode strongly to bring Lippert back to the remnants of the peloton, and alongside an incredibly hard-working Franziska Koch, managed to keep the gap to the second group on the road within contact.

Entering the final 20 kilometres attacks flew from the bunch and the chasers, leaving riders in small groups all over the road. Lippert kept her head down, continuing to work hard and set her own tempo all the way to the finish line in Siena, where she crossed the line for a hard-fought 16th place – a result that sees her maintain her lead atop the UCI Women’s WorldTour standings.

Speaking after the race Lippert said: “It was a really tough race today with the hot conditions. I had a mechanical but Franziska, Leah and Coryn dropped from the bunch to bring me back. Juliette then helped before Franziska made it back and did an amazing job to go full gas to close the gap, dropping, coming back and closing some more. I had some bad luck because I felt really good and could follow the best on the uphill gravel sections – I was with the best when they started to attack. On the second last gravel section, which is really important, I knew there was a tricky corner coming up so I made sure I was in a good position at the front but there was a crash in front of me and I lost a lot of places and time there. From that point I was either alone or in a small group, but I just kept going. I knew that I wanted to give my best and get the best result I could, never giving up, fighting until the line. I wanted to come for more and with my legs I think I could have done better if we had better luck, but in general I think I can be proud of my shape and the way we fought as a team, we never gave in today.”

Team Sunweb coach Hans Timmermans added: “We had some bad luck today which cost us a lot of energy. It took at least one and a half gravel sectors to bring Liane back to the peloton, which in the end made the difference. Franziska rode incredibly well today too as she was dropped on the longest gravel sector but fought back on her own. She then drove the pace at the front of the peloton to keep the gap to the group ahead small, so that Liane could attack and catch some riders from that group. Liane can also be proud of how she rode today too, fighting back and never giving up.”

Results

Pos. Rider Team Time Points
1 VAN VLEUTEN Annemiek Mitchelton-Scott 4:03:54 400
2 GARCÍA Mavi Alé BTC Ljubljana 0:22 320
3 THOMAS Leah Équipe Paule Ka 1:53 260