Emma Johansson was victorious in the Trofeo Binda-Commune di Cittiglio on Sunday. The Swedish Orica-AIS rider outsprinted UCI World Cup leader Lizzie Armitstead to win by millimetres. Belorussian Champion Alena Amialiusik of Astana-BePink rounded up the podium in Cittiglio.
The 123.7 kilometre race, the second round of the UCI Women Road World Cup, took place in the province of Varese, in the north of Italy. Against the scenic backdrop of the Lago Maggiore 139 riders signed the sheet and took the start at 1.30pm.
The six per cent average, four-kilometre long climb to Cunardo, in the first hour of racing, split the peloton for the first time. A little over half of the 139 riders were still up front when the finish line in Cittiglio was crossed for the second time.
A breakaway of six riders with, among others, Megan Guarnier for Boels-Dolmans and Lucinda Brand for Rabo-Liv managed to take 45 seconds but were reeled back in over the the first local, 17.1 kilometre loop.
Guarnier tried again in the penultimate lap. Brand and Chantal Blaak joined her but they were never allowed to get more than half a minute ahead.
The Orino climb in each of these four laps thinned out the peloton until a group of only 29 riders were left in contention for the victory on the last lap. Eight of them left the others behind on the last three-kilometre ascent to Orino.
Armitstead had a teammate in Ellen van Dijk, as did Anna van der Breggen with Ferrand-Prevot. Last year’s winner Elisa Longo Borghini, Olga Zabelinskaya, Amialiusik and Johansson were also in the decisive breakaway.
In a close uphill sprint it was Johansson who beat Armitstead to the line. Only millimetres seperated the two riders. A photo finish decided that the champagne went to Johansson who after a third, and three second places finally jumped onto the top step of the podium in Italy.
“Riders know if they won or not. I hoped I did because it was so close today,” Armitstead commented on her second place. “Next week me and Emma will meet again in the Tour of Flanders with other strong riders like Amy Pieters and Ferrand-Prevot for example. Now it’s time for a rest and then prepare for next Sunday.”
Armitstead keeps the lead in the overall classification of the UCI Women Road World Cup. By finishing first on the only rated climb of the day in Cunardo Amialiusik took the climber’s jersey off Pieters’ shoulders.
With Anna Stricker (Astana-BePink) and Specialized-Lululemon’s Carmen Small taking the points in the two intermediate sprints, Iris Slappendel’s sprint jersey was not under threat. Pauline Ferrand-Prevot took the best young rider’s jersey from her Rabo-Liv teammate Talitha de Jong.