Giorgia Bronzini (Italy) retained her title in the UCI World Championships with a perfectly timed sprint in the women's road race. The Italian beat Marianne Vos (Netherlands) and Ina-Yoko Teutenberg (Germany) to the line. Great Britain's Nicole Cooke finished fourth. For Vos, it was another Worlds disappointment. In previous years, she has won once and finished second five times.
As she crossed the line Vos couldn't hide her frustration and threw her arms down, while Bronzini raised hers in celebration. In truth, both women rode the perfect race - hiding from the wind all day and using their teammates to chase down any danger up ahead.
Both riders had leadout trains lining up around the final corner, and it looked as though Vos would pull on the road race rainbow jersey for the first time since 2006 as they headed into the final 300 meters. However, Vos appeared to pick the wrong wheel and was forced to swerve around Teutenberg. It cost her all her momentum and despite a late push for the line, she was unable to overhaul Bronzini.
"In the finale, I had Baccaille, and I asked her to start the sprint early and strong," the Italian said.
"I believed in the race and the podium, but I thought the jersey was impossible because my season had been low, but maybe when I wear the Italian jersey, I feel something, like I have more energy."
The exciting finale was a contrast to the majority of the race. So far, each of the road races in this Words have provided excitement and attacking action from the gun, but the women's event took a lot longer to wake up in brisk Copenhagen conditions.
There were a number of minor attacks but each one was neutralised. Emma Pooley (Great Britain) played both animator and defender on several occasions. Her attacks supported her claims that she would ride in aid of her teammates after taking bronze in the time trial earlier in the week but the shallow climbs were never going to be hard enough for her to force a selection, especially with so many fresh legs. Yet she hovered around the front of the bunch for over half the race, chasing moves so that her teammates could rest.
Several uneventful laps passed as the favourites continued to watch each other. New Zealand's Linda Villumsen was the first to test the waters but her move was simply a probe for later in the race.
With three laps to go, Sweden moved to the front, clearly in a bid to anticipate any important splits, before Russia followed suit.
But while the pace increased, the level of activity off the front was still lacking. That changed when Amber Neben (United States Of America) took two seconds on the bunch. Her move was quickly neutralised, but the next one was a little harder to wipe out.
After a strong performance in the women's time trial that not many had predicted, Clara Hughes (Canada) decided to challenge on the sprinter-friendly road race course. In a brave attack, she gained 44 seconds with two laps to go.
At one stage, the bunch narrowed the lead to Hughes to just over 10 seconds as Linda Villumsen (New Zealand) made a more serious effort, also off the front of the bunch. The New Zealander was marked by one of Bronzini's teammates but the time trial silver medallist continued to press on, knowing that like so many riders, a sprint finish would ultimately end her hopes.
Once Villumsen was reeled in by a German- and Dutch-led peloton, the pack began to ease up.
Hughes of course pressed on and managed to drag her advantage back up to approaching 40 seconds, with just one lap to go.
All of sudden, it looked as the though the only true meaningful attack of the race would win Canada its first medal of the championships but as Hughes began to weaken, the sprinters' teams finally began to organise themselves.
Great Britain moved up, but smartly allowed the Dutch to put in the greatest amount of work. With Hughes finally caught inside the final 3km, Vos had her team press on, determined to make amends for her near misses.
A crash before the final, ruled out Villumsen as Vos, who still had three teammates left to help her, made her way around the final bend and toward the line.
And all looked to plan until Bronzini, with a perfect lead-out from Monia Baccaille fired for the line.
"Giorgia is a fantastic sprinter, she won in a great way. Of course you think back about whether you made a mistake in the sprint, but I didn’t. She was the best," said Vos.
This article was originally published on Cyclingnews.com.