Van Dijk’s escape to victory
Giorgia Bronzini received the congratulations of an admiring peloton when she won the second of the two stages of the Madrid Challenge. At the end of a 15-year career, it was the two-time world champion’s final race before she becomes a directeur sportif at the Trek Factory Racing women’s team in 2019. After winning the sprint from a 17-strong group – she was one of the final riders to board the getaway train initially driven by her team-mate Rossella Ratto – she said, “Many of my opponents were happy for me and congratulated me, and that makes me happy because it means that I’ve left my mark in a good way.”
Bronzini stole the headlines with a popular victory, but the overall win went to Ellen van Dijk, a rider entering a period of change as well. It was one of her final races for Sunweb before she too joins Trek. This year’s Madrid Challenge was split over two days. It started with a technical 12.6km team time trial offering a chance to test running orders ahead of the Worlds TTT in Innsbruck. Sunweb underlined their dominance with an 18-second win over Wiggle- High5. Leah Kirchmann led Sunweb over the line first and wore the first purple jersey of race leader.
The second stage was contested on the same 5.8km city circuit that is the men’s finale to the Vuelta a España. On alternating laps, bonuses of five, two and one seconds were available. But when Ratto drew 18 more riders into a break that was made up of ones and twos from each team, but which lacked the top sprinters, the race was open. Audrey Cordon-Ragot began an aggressive pursuit of the bonus seconds, but was matched all the way by Van Dijk, who, by dint of Sunweb’s TTT performance became the virtual race leader.
The group held off the peloton, just, leaving Bronzini free to contest the sprint, 13 seconds ahead of the chasers behind. Honours may have gone to Van Dijk, but the day belonged to the retiring Bronzini.
Van Dijk secures her irst WorldTour win of the year at the Madrid Challenge