Emo­tional vic­tory for van der Breggen Dutch­woman lays the ghosts of years of near-misses to rest

Cycling Weekly - - NEWS -

At a stand­still just be­yond the World Cham­pi­onship fin­ish line in Inns­bruck and al­most lost in the crowd and he­li­copter noise, new women’s road world cham­pion Anna van der Breggen bent dou­ble over her han­dle­bars and sobbed her heart out. The re­lease of seven years and three sec­ond places’ worth of pres­sure will do that to you.

“I was happy this morn­ing know­ing tonight, no mat­ter how it goes, it’s over and I can re­lax again and en­joy cy­cling,” said van der Breggen.

The weight of ex­pec­ta­tion, built up over years of Worlds near misses, had be­come nearly un­bear­able lead­ing up to this year’s cham­pi­onships, the Dutch­woman ex­plained.

“It was not the eas­i­est pe­riod in my cy­cling ca­reer,” she said. “To go on the bike and to know that you should be good on this day… and you don’t get that many chances with a cir­cuit like this, with this much climb­ing.”

As for the Bri­tish chal­lenge, the team was left sat­is­fied but ul­ti­mately empty-handed af­ter a solid per­for­mance that saw four of Bri­tain’s six women fin­ish. Dani Rowe was GB’S best-placed fin­isher in 26th, while 19-year-old So­phie Wright’s 41st would have net­ted her a bronze medal in the U23 cat­e­gory — had it ex­isted.

Rowe in par­tic­u­lar had cause to feel some­what ag­grieved. She suf­fered first a jammed chain af­ter be­com­ing en­tan­gled in a crash and hav­ing to chase for 15 kilo­me­tres, and then on the sec­ond as­cent of the Olympic climb — just as van der Breggen was mak­ing her race-win­ning move — her gears got stuck in the ‘11’ sprocket, re­quir­ing an­other bike change, and an­other chase.

“When you have to ex­pel en­ergy like that it’s never good,” she said. “But I’m pleased with how I rode to­day, I gave it ev­ery­thing I had. I fought all the way to the line.”

Bri­tish left want­ing

GB Cy­cling Team di­recteur sportif Ju­lian Winn de­clared him­self sat­is­fied with the women’s per­for­mance. “It’s an hon­est re­sult,” he said. “It was a bloody tough course; a very self-se­lect­ing course. It was like, ‘if you can fol­low, you can fol­low’.

“All five of them got to the fin­ish­ing cir­cuit in the right half and it was just a mat­ter of go­ing out and hold­ing on as long as you can.”

“Now I can re­lax and en­joy cy­cling again”

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