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.