September 23, 2011 (Copenhagen, Denmark) – Nervous riding on narrow course in Halsa, a municipality outside of Copenhagen resulted in three crashes in the first 40 minutes. No one could blame the perfect weather. It was autumn cycling at its best with sunny skies, +18C and little wind. Almost from the start, the newly crowned Junior Women’s TT champion, Jessica Allen, and New Zealand rider Georgia Williams, were out after one of their bikes got hooked on a fence.
But the British team looked calm and cool letting others make mistakes while positioning themselves perfectly near the front of the 74-rider peloton. The strategy worked to U.K. rider Lucy Garner’s advantage as she put four bike lengths between herself and the field in under 100 metres in the final sprint to finish to scoop the gold in the 70km race with a time of 1:46:17.
Canada’s Gabrielle Pilote-Fortin finished in the bunch as the top Canuck in 19th spot while road and ITT Canadian champ Annie Ewart, who was 7th in the time trial, was back 19 seconds in 50th. Alizee Brien finished 8:20 minutes back caught behind an early crash while Allison Beveridge from Alberta, the reigning Crit champ, was also caught in a melee behind American Grace Alexander who crashed on the first lap. Beveridge spent the rest of the race chasing with seven other riders. Eventually they were pulled when the field was about to lap them.
But for a jubilant Garner, who celebrated her seventeenth birthday on September 20, the perfect race and patient positioning for the sprint was a belated and overwhelming gift at her first ever Junior Worlds. She had not expected to win but commented, “The team worked so well today. We’re all friends. We trust each other so much. Today I was to sit in and go with any attacks – I had to be there. Elinor [Barker] and Amy [Roberts] were supposed to attack and make the race hard.”
The Dutch, British, Spanish, Italian, and German riders were aggressive in the first 40km of the race, but the decisive action started with Dutch rider Thalita De Jong who made her solo move around 42km. A chase group of five, including Canada’s Ewart jumped after her on the climb at the backstretch of the 14km course.
The chase group included bronze medalist in the time trial, Mieke Kroger. De Jong was caught after 4km by the chase, but now they had to worry about a fast approaching field. By the the 1:17 mark into the race the field was only seven seconds behind, and quickly closed the gap. Then Italian rider Rosetta Ratto, the European road race and time trial champ, attacked up the right side as soon as the field joined the break.
The move looked very threatening as within a kilometre she had a 14-second gap. One of the Spanish riders broke and tired to bridge, but it was the effort of Ewart and Kroger at the front of an increasingly strung out field that kept the Italian within sight.
But at the start of the final lap, Ewart had moved back in the pack that had closed to six seconds on Ratto. The Brits moved to the front and, as Garner had said, “…made it a hard race.”
Then German rider and time trial bronze medalist Kroger made her move just after the bell lap at the 57km mark and bridged to Ratto. Together on the narrow course without a lot of wind, and the Italians and Germans blocking the field at times, looked like the may be away for good as the pack seemed to struggle indecisively behind.
Finally Druyts jumped at the bottom of the climb with French and Spanish riders with her, but they could not catch the break. At the 90km mark and ten to go, the Italian and German had a 20-second gap. With 7.5km to go the Russians, Belgium and Brits attacked again in earnest.
The gap between the two riders and the group started to diminish as the finish line approached. With 1.8km left the time differential was down to 12 seconds and the final sprint was soon coming. The two riders looked at each other and behind in a state of semi-confusion. Should they expend what little energy they had left and try to hold off the field or take their chances in the sprint?
It was a moot question as they were caught at the last corner before the finish – which is a deceiving straightaway that is uphill. The finish line is visible once the riders make the turn, but it’s still a long way to go. “On the last lap we caught the two riders at the bottom of the hill,” said Garner.
Garner Wins Final Sprint
A few riders could go, but I just was sitting in-it was too early. I bided my time. I would blow up, so I timed it really-head down to the finish line. When it was time to go, I went. ” Garner added, “In the U.K. there quite a few uphill finishes-they helped in trying to figure out the hill. I had to just think in the race not to go too early.”
All three medalist had not expected to catch the German and Italian duo, “…but once you have them in sight and on the corner it was clear,” Garner explained post-race.
Druyts, who comes from the legendary Flanders area of Belgium where so many cyclists are made, also commented on the unexpected sprint finish. She said to herself with one kilometre to go, “Yes, it’s going to be a sprint – oh God – it’s going to be a sprint. I’m sure of it.”
Bronze medalist Siggaard, like Garner, was protected by her team. Sofie Kamilla Valin and Fie Degn Larsen were the workhorses. “Valin did the big work to catch. She should do the work to protect me in the sprint” said Siggaard. She added “I thought it would be shorter-but it was all really from the corner a sprint.”
For Pilote-Fortin her 19th place finish was a career best. “This is my first ‘real’ international race and it’s a very good start to my career. I am really happy with what I have accomplished today.
“Typically, I am more of a climber, and today I realized after the sprint finish that I am much more versatile. With a little bit more road, perhaps 100m, the experience would have been much better.”
Ewart was hoping the break she was in would stay away but it was not to be, yet overall she was happy with her ride. “It was good for the most part. It’s definitely an improvement from last year. I got the chance to ride in the break, which I thought would have stayed for a longer time because it was most of the top 10 time trial riders. But organization in the bunch wasn’t quite there and we eventually got caught. That’s the way it goes.”
1. Lucy Garner (Great Britain) 1:46:17
2. Jessy Druyts (Belgium)
3. Christina Siggaard (Denmark)
4. Manon Souyris (France)
5. Christina Perchtold (Austria)
6. Sheyla Gutierrez Ruiz (Spain)
7. Lisa Küllmer (Germany)
8. Beatrice Bartelloni (Italy)
9. Kelly Markus (Netherlands)
10. Silvija Latozaite (Lithuania)
11. Rossella Ratto (Italy)
12. Svetlana Kashirina (Russian Federation)
13. Irene Usabiaga Balerdi (Spain)
14. Katarzyna Kirschenstein (Poland)
15. Céline Van Severen (Belgium)
16. Ingrid Drexel (Mexico)
17. Larissa Brühwiler (Switzerland)
18. Sophie Williamson (New Zealand)
19. Gabrielle Pilote-Fortin (Canada)
20. Chiara Vannucci (Italy)
21. Jessica Mundy (Australia)
22. Ruta Zemaityte (Lithuania)
23. Anouska Koster (Netherlands)
24. Marthe Emilie Skjolden (Norway)
25. Katarzyna Niewiadoma (Poland)
26. Lisa Fischer (Germany)
27. Alina Bondarenko (Russian Federation)
28. Rebecca Talen (Netherlands)
29. Oriane Chaumet (France)
30. Madeleine Ortmüller (Germany)
31. Amy Roberts (Great Britain)
32. Anna Kyva (Ukraine)
33. Katarzyna Wilkos (Poland)
34. Maria Giulia Confalonieri (Italy)
35. Allison Rice (Australia)
36. Lourdes Oyarbide Jimenez (Spain)
37. Alexandra Nessmar (Sweden)
38. Elena Lloret Llinares (Spain)
39. Thalita De Jong (Netherlands) 0:09
40. Fie Degn Larsen (Denmark) 0:10
41. Addyson Albershardt (United States of America)
42. Kseniya Dobrynina (Russian Federation)
43. Alexis Ryan (United States of America)
44. Marlene Wintgens (Belgium) 0:13
45. Rita Imstepf (Switzerland)
46. Steffi Lodewijks (Belgium)
47. Alexandra Chekina (Russian Federation)
48. Mieke Kröger (Germany)
49. Kamilla Sofie Valin (Denmark) 0:19
50. Annie Ewart (Canada)
51. Hannah Barnes (Great Britain) 0:31
52. Elinor Barker (Great Britain)
53. Dalia Muccioli (Italy) 0:35
54. Varela Erika (Mexico) 1:18
55. Valentine Morin (France) 1:20
56. Thi That Nguyen (Vietnam) 7:54
57. Egle Poskaite (Lithuania)
58. Lija Laizane (Latvia) 8:02
59. Felicia Ferner (Sweden) 8:04
60. Carolina Rodriguez Gutierrez (Mexico) 8:11
61. Alizee Brien (Canada) 8:20
62. Emma Ahlstrand (Sweden) 0:11:41
63. Antonela Ferencic (Croatia) 0:14:08
64. Iana Tiganova (Ukraine)
65. Marina Shmayankova (Belarus) 0:15:20
66. Alicja Komos (Poland)
67. Pia Charlotte Matter (Norway) 0:15:23
DNF Urska Kalan (Slovenia)
DNF Jenny Rissveds (Sweden)
DNF Allison Beveridge (Canada)
DNF Mathilde Favre (France)
DNF Grace Alexander (United States of America)
DNF Jessica Allen (Australia)
DNF Georgia Williams (New Zealand)