Race report

Explosive action at Worlds sees Liane Lippert 4th and Juliette Labous 7th, as Pfeiffer Georgi claims 2nd in U23 race

UCI World Championships

Starting in Helensburgh and ending in Wollongong, the peloton were faced with a 164 kilometre route to decide this year’s world champion. The early part of the day would see the first action of the week up Mount Keira before the now familiar circuit in Wollongong and the steep Mount Pleasant ascent. This year’s race would also see the inclusion of an U23 world champion, with the jersey decided in a race-within-a-race style.

Team DSM were present on the start list with Pfeiffer Georgi, Leah Kirchmann (who was riding her last ever race as a professional), Franziska Koch, Juliette Labous, Liane Lippert and Floortje Mackaij – with the six riders representing their national teams.

It was a steady start to the race and despite a solid pace, there was no explosive action on Mount Keira and instead it was a race of attrition with riders dropping. However, as things then slowed after that, many of those dropped managed to return. Kirchmann, Koch and Mackaij did a lot of work for their team leaders early on, with the trio riding strongly in a support role as the action built to a crescendo.

On the penultimate lap, Lippert launched a vicious attack up Mount Pleasant and initially went clear with Longo Borghini before three others joined them off the descent. Yet, there was a lack of cooperation in the group and the chasers came back – meaning around 30 riders were together as they approached the climb once more, including Lippert, Labous and Georgi. Reusser launched an attack on the flat roads beforehand and ensured that the pace remained high in the chasing group, before Lippert once again showed her strong legs by exploding the chasing bunch.

In a case of déjà-vu, it was the same five riders who broke away with Lippert once again appearing to be the strongest on the ascent. Coming over the climb and onto the descent they held onto a 15 second advantage over the first chasing group which contained Labous, while Georgi was in the third group a further 15 seconds behind. Lippert did the largest share of work in the front but there were others who didn’t want to pull through as much and as a result the gap to those closed and Lippert’s group was caught on the final drag just before the flamme rouge by Labous’ group.

Van Vleuten then caught everyone by surprise with a perfectly timed attack to take the win after a moment of hesitation from everyone else, while Lippert and Labous gave it their all in the sprint to take strong fourth and seventh place finishes.

Behind in the following group Georgi went all-in to take 16th on the day but it was a result that would see her claim a brilliant second place in the new U23 category – with the young Brit taking home a well earned silver medal.

“I felt really strong today and had a really good team around me who kept me in a good position all day,” explained Lippert. “On the long climb we expected more fireworks but it was a bit more steady. It was the same on the first few laps, so I wasn’t sure if the race was going to be hard enough to make the difference in the final but going towards the final laps it was then faster which was good. On the second last lap someone else attacked and I went over the top and went clear with Longo Borghini which was a really nice situation but some more people caught us and made a group of five, and it was the same group on the that lap and final lap. I went full each time on the climb and it was only the five of us left but they didn’t commit 100 percent which was annoying as I felt like I did that, and it was a really good chance to take a medal at the World Championships. I felt super strong today and when I was in that group I started to believe and dream in the rainbow jersey but it was just frustrating when everyone didn’t fully commit to it. In the end another group came back with some fast finishers and Van Vleuten attacked at the perfect time. I started my sprint really early and I got fourth place as I exploded a bit as I was on my limit. At some point I was dreaming of more than fighting for the podium so for now it is just frustrating but I showed myself well and can take confidence from that going into the final races this year.”

Georgi added: “It was a really tough attritional race and the girls kept me protected all day. It got faster and tougher as the race went on before it exploded in the final two laps. I’m really happy with the result and think I got everything out of myself today which is all I can ask for.”