“I never believed I was actually going to win this. This year I have been very close to wins and just missed out by meters or even centimeters. That has left me with a bit of a trauma,” the winner smiled. “But I heard what my gap was in the final and that I was not going to lose 50 seconds in the final two kilometres.”
The decisive move in the 121 kilometre long race in the region of Brittanny, western France, came at 50 kilometres from the line, in the penultimate of the four 26,9 kilometre loops north of Plouay. Vos initiated the breakaway. The world champion who won this race last year, worked hard for her teammates Ferrand Prevot and Anna van der Breggen.
A group of ten riders, including four for Rabo-Liv formed the decisive move. Vos, Van der Breggen, Brand and Ferrand-Prevot, Emma Johansson for Orica-AIS, Elisa Longo Borghini for Hitec Products, Specialized-lululemon’s Tiffany Cromwell, Rosella Ratto for Estado de Mexico, Astana-Be Pink’s Alena Amialiusik and the overall world cup winner Lizzie Armitstead for Boels-Dolmans.
Though Rabo-Liv had strength in numbers, riders like Cromwell, Armistead and Johansson wouldn’t just throw the towel. They all kept attacking but in the end they were caught up in the tactical game Rabo-Liv played.
“I showed I was one of the strongest on the road today,” Armitstead commented. She already secured the overall world cup win but was clearly riding for another World Cup win.
“There were just so many riders for Rabo-Liv and in the end I didn’t have the legs anymore for the sprint. But I won the overall world cup and that was one of my career goals so I am happy.”
In the last, smaller lap, a 13,9 kilometre loop south of Plouay, a group of eight remained but from the background Lucinda Brand attacked one more time. She bridged towards the group and overtook them immediately to start a solo.
“I knew I wasn’t the strongest on the climb so I had to let the group go there, but I saved energy and there still was something left in the legs. The others maybe expected something from the stronger riders and then I had a chance.”
Brand had one more big hurdle to take: the Côte de Ty Marec with gradients over ten per cent. She built up a lead of almost a minute but saw that dwindle to 30 seconds on the climb at four kilometres from the line. But in the group behind her Vos, Van der Breggen and Ferrand-Prevot weren’t doing any work. The Rabo-Liv team protected Brand’s solo attack to perfection.
It’s the 25-year old Dutchwoman’s first World Cup victory. Vos sprinted to second with Ferrand-Prevot made it a perfect 1-2-3 for Rabo-Liv.
“It was a hard race and we attacked several times,” Vos said. “Lucinda is always there for the team and today she wins this race. We all had our chances but in the end the one who makes the break, takes it. I am very happy for her.”
Next to Armitstead as overall world cup winner, Rabo-Liv was celebrated as best team, Alena Amialiusik as best climber, Elena Cecchini as best young rider and Iris Slappendel as winner of the UCI sprint jersey in this year’s UCI Women Road World Cup series.
You can watch the highlights of the GP Plouay on the UCI YouTube channel and selected networks. A longer, 25-minute race summary will air later this week.