2023 World Championships Road Race – Report

How the race finished

Lotte Kopecky (Belgium) won the World Championship title solo after a thrilling race on a tough course. Demi Vollering (Netherlands) caught and out sprinted Cecile Uttrup Ludwig (Denmark) on the line for second place.

Coming home in 11th place, Blanka Vas (Hungary) was the first Under 23 rider, winning the title ahead of Shirin van Anrooij (Netherlands) and Anna Shackley (Great Britain).

Full results are available below.

How it happened

The women’s World Championship took place over a 151.1km course, starting in Loch Lomond and finishing with the now infamous lumpy lamps of central Glasglow. On the morning of the race, we awoke to the news of a few riders who could potentially have been key players in shaking up the race not taking the start due to illness. The list of non-starters included podium finisher at the Tour de France Femmes Kasia Niewiadoma (Poland), ITT champion Chloé Dygert (USA) and punchy finisher Ruby Roseman-Gannon (Australia).

With damp roads but clear skies, the peloton set off at a steady tempo, high enough for some riders to find themselves in difficulty early on. The teams of Austria, Canada and Germany were visible on the front, as their pace deterred any immediate attacks. The first attacks came from Great Britain, Austria and Luxembourg, with Marianne Vos interestingly tracking the moves for the Netherlands. Eliska Kvasnickova (Czech Republic) had a short time up the front solo, but was brought back. Attacks also came from Alexandra Manly (Australia), Cristina Schweinberger (Austria) and Coryn Labecki (USA), but they were all brought back.

Eventually, following a move by Blanka Vas (Hungary), a strong breakaway group of seven riders formed. Alongside Vas, the group included Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio (South Africa), Elise Chabbey (Switzerland), Juliette Labous (France), Lizzie Deignan (Great Britain), Mischa Bredewold (Netherlands) and Sanne Cant (Belgium). Having missed the move, Italy and Australia moved to the front, setting a hard pace. 

By the time the race hit the base of the climb up Crow Road, the peloton, that had started with 207 riders, was already whittled down to half that. At the base of Crow Road Amanda Spratt (Australia) attacked, and was covered by Soraya Paladin (Italy) and Liane Lippert (Germany). Paladin pushed on, hoping to bridge to the break, but it was a doomed move. On the climb Vas found herself dropped from the breakaway, falling back into the group. Germany pushed the pace in the peloton, using the climbing skills of Ricarda Bauernfeind and Antonia Niedermeier to pull back the break. Vos, Labecki and Ally Wollaston (New Zealand) found themselves in a second half of the peloton. 

Over the top of the climb the remaining six riders in the breakaway held a lead of 30 seconds. As the peloton crested the climb Romy Kasper (Germany) came to front of the peloton, with Marlen Reusser (Switzerland) present near the front, keeping an eye on things for Chabbey. 

Persico, Niedermeier and Lipper clipped off front on descent, but were chased down by Lotte Kopecky (Belgium), Reusser and Kasper. The attacks stretched the peloton out, and it all came back together. The breakaway was caught at 110km to go, with Labous suffering a front wheel puncture at almost the same moment.

With everything back together, the opportunity to get up the road was looked at anew. Taniel Campbell (Trinidad & Tobago) went, with Ella Wylie (New Zealand) coming across. The group swelled, with France, Canada, Australia and Italy joining. At the same time, Kopecky had a mechanical problem and needed a bike change. Julie de Wilde (Belgium) came back to help Kopecky come back to the peloton, bringing Labous back at the same time. 

With the fight to be first into the circuit looming, Mavi Garcia (Spain) tried to attack and get some space, but couldn’t get clear. As the peloton slowed and the riders who had been dropped on Crow Road came back, Kim Cadzow (New Zealand) drifted off the front. She built a lead of around forty seconds as they approached the circuit. Netherlands and Australia took up positions on the front, holding a high page to defend their positions into the first corners. 

As the riders entered the circuit Anna Henderson (Great Britain) used the first hill to launch a huge attack. Elise Chabbey (Switzerland) came across, with the peloton completely strung out behind her. For riders who were out of position coming into the circuit, it suddenly became very difficult to ever see the front of the race again. On the next small rise, Cadzow was caught and quickly passed by Hendersen and Chabbey, who had also been joined by Lotte Kopecky (Belgium), Liane Lippert (Germany), Demi Vollering (Netherlands), Silvia Persico (Italy) and Grace Brown (Australia). Marlen Reusser (Switzerland) made the move to come across, slowly drawing the peloton with her. 

Chabbey pushed hard on the climb, before Reusser pressed on over the top of the climb, quickly getting a small gap with 90 km to go. Henderson jumped across slightly later, and the duo worked together for around five kilometres, before being caught by a small chasing group led by Reijanne Markus (Netherlands) as they crossed the finish line for the first time. With Kopecky and Lippert missing the move, they were under pressure on the front of the chasing peloton. Blanka Vas (Hungary) and Jelena Eric (Spain) tried to bridge across, with Justine Ghekiere (Belgium) eventually doing the work to bring everything back together for Kopecky. 

Attacks continued to come, with the front of the race continually splitting into small groups. With five riders remaining in the reduced peloton, including previous World Champion sprinter Elisa Balsamo, Italy looked to be sitting pretty. Great Britain sent back to back attacks up the road, with Henderson again getting a small gap. Kopecky followed with Persico on the wheel. Despite the trio working together, the Netherlands were able to once again put Markus on the front to bring it back together.

With 74 km to the finish, as there was a little lull in the pace, Chabbey launched an attack through the sweeping corners. She quickly disappeared from view, her third time up the road on the day sticking. As her advantage climbed out to 15 seconds, Belgium put Ghekiere on the front to keep Chabbey within touching distance. 

At 62km to go Chabbey had extended her lead to over half a minute. Van Vleuten needed a front wheel change, followed by a bike change, which put the defending World Champion into chasing mode behind the peloton. Cecile Uttrup Ludwig (Denmark) attacked on the next steep pitch, with Soraya Paladin (Italy) desperately trying to get across. After Uttrup Ludwig was caught Markus rolled off the front, but didn’t seem to be riding at 100%. A counter attack came from Kopecky, Persico and Skalniak Sojka (Poland), with the trio followed by Reusser (Switzerland), Lippert (Germany), and Christina Schweinberger (Austria). Kopecky looked keen to keep on the pedals at the front, and the group came to within 10 seconds of Chabbey, before an attack from Vollering out of the peloton brought them backs.

With 55km to go, as the group came across the finish line once again, Cecchini (Italy) slipped off the front. Van Vleuten was in the cars, slowly making her way back. As the bunch slowed up, Chabbey’s lead went back out to 25 seconds. Recognising the lack of pace in the group, as soon as they chased back on, Mavi Garcia (Spain) and van Vleuten attacked off the front. The pair were followed by a small group before it all came back together once again. With no one prepared to take responsibility on the front, the gaps to Chabbey and Cecchini continued to extend out to over a minute. Garcia attacked again with Moolman-Pasio and Uttrup Ludwg on the wheel, but they were marked out by Kopecky, Reusser and Deignan. 

With 46km remaining, Cecchini was brought back – but Chabbey retained her lead of over a minute up the road. Markus and Balsamo attacked, but were not allowed to go clear. With 40km to go, Chabbey had extended her lead to a minute and a half. Finally, the Netherlands came to the front to pace. After a few kilometres of steadily eating into the gap, an attack came from van Vleuten with Persico in the wheel. Kopecky came across the gap with Vollering, and the pair went straight across the top. Vollering wouldn’t do a turn, and the pair were joined by Reusser and Schweinberger as they came into the bottom of another steep climb. Kopecky launched again, and over the top a small group of Kopecky, Vollering, van Vleuten, Reusser, Deignan, Schweinberger, and Uttrup Ludwig went clear. 

Van Vleuten immediately attacked again, with Vollering sitting up to let others chase. Kopecky was forced to the front, and with no one else helping, it suddenly looked like it could be another rainbow dream for van Vleuten, who was closing in on Chabbey. Schweinberger and Deignan began to relay, but the chase was half-hearted. Not wanting to drag the group across to van Vleuten with her, Kopecky attacked. Suddenly Vollering was on the back foot, with all eyes in the chase group on her. Vollering pulled the group back to Kopecky, before Uttrup Ludwig attacked Montrose Street to bring van Vleuten back. 

With van Vleuten caught, the pace went out of the chase. Again, no one was prepared to ride the front, and the gap to Chabbey stretched out again to over twenty seconds with 25 kilometres to go. After some consternation in the chasing group, an attack by Vollering followed by Kopecky and the rest of the group meant that Chabbey got company, after more than 50km out front solo, as the bell rang for one lap remaining. Van Vleuten took another bike change, taking her out of the front group. 

On the final lap it was still anyone’s to take. Deignan tried to slip off the front, but Vollering wouldn’t let her have an inch. Deignan attacked again, taking Schweinberger with her. The pair built a small lead. Reusser attacked from the chase, hoping to power across to the front of the race. Uttrup Ludwig tried to follow Reusser, while Chabbey and Kopecky sat behind Vollering. Not confident in the chase, Kopecky launched off the wheel, catching the others off guard. Kopecky got across to Reusser, and the pair caught the two leaders. 

On the steep slopes, Vollering launched up the side of the road, flying over the top of the leading quartet. Kopecky and Schweinberger followed, but the effort appeared to cause Vollering to cramp up. On the next climb Uttrup Ludwig attacked. Deignan tried to follow, but it was Kopecky who had the legs to go across and then over the top of Uttrup Ludwig, who managed to hold on. When the pair hit Montrose Street Kopecky dug deep to pull away from Uttrup Ludwig over the top. At 5.5km to go, after many, many attempts, Kopecky finally found herself solo at the front of the race.

With Uttrup Ludwig on the chase followed by Vollering and Reusser, Kopecky had to keep pushing on to bring home the win. With all the pressure on her shoulders coming into the race, the ability to deliver it on the day in such a resounding way was nothing short of stunning. Crossing the line solo, she held her hands up in disbelief. Vollering attacked on the final ascent of Montrose street, bringing herself close enough to Uttrup Ludwig to steal the silver medal in their sprint to the line. 

With no under 23 riders making the front selection, the race within a race was decided but a sprint in the chasing bunch. After an active race, Blanka Vas still had the legs to take the title ahead of Shirin van Anrooij (Netherlands) and Anna Shackley (Great Britain). 

 

Results

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