American Megan Guarnier beat out Boels-Dolmans teammate Lizzie Armitstead to take the first ever women's Strade Bianche title

Megan Guarnier (Boels-Dolmans) won the inaugural edition of the Elite Women’s Strade Bianche, finishing 37 seconds ahead of team mate, Britain’s Lizzie Armitstead.

The 29-year-old attacked a group of nine other escapees just over 17km before the finish line in the magnificent Piazza il Campo in Siena. Second at last year’s US Time Trial Championships, Guarnier quickly built a lead in excess of 20 seconds over the group, which, in turn, was soon whittled down to eight riders.

With the group failing to cooperate, the American’s lead grew to 45 seconds; a gap she managed to maintain up the final climb into the Tuscan City’s historic centre.

The peloton stayed together for the first 50 kilometres, before hitting the San Martinno in Grania gravel sector. The longest of the five sectors, at 9.5km the race split into three groups, before the remaining 14 riders split on the remaining sectors.

“I’m so happy,” Gauarnier told Cycling Weekly at the finish. “This is a dream come true. I saw this race last year for the men and I thought I want to win that race.”

>>> Lizzie Armitstead third in women’s Omloop Het Nieuwsblad

For Armitstead, it was the climbs, rather than the white gravel roads that give the race it’s name, which made the race difficult. “I found the climbs the hardest part,” she told us, “It was the steepness of them towards the end, rather than the gravel,” she told us.

The 103 kilometre race tackled five gravel sectors totalling 17.4km. The longest, coming just over half way through the race, was 9.5 kilometres is length with a climb of 20%.

  • Dave2020

    Before the 2014 Tour of Flanders, Lizzie was reported to have said she’d be gutted to finish second. This is what “gutted” looks like when the tactics go to plan and your team-mate has just won!!

  • Dave2020

    I think you’ll find “beat out” is grabbing the wrong end of the stick. Boels-Dolmans don’t ask their riders to work for a nominated leader. Before the start of last year’s Tour of Flanders, Lizzie said they’d be racing “dual captain” – to make it “double hard” for Emma Johansson, and so it proved.

    Anna, Ashleigh and Elisa had to gap Lizzie – that’s a big ask – or tow her to the finale. (there were only four others at the sharp end)

    “I knew Lizzie was behind me, and I know she had her work cut out for her. From what I hear the attacks from the other riders were relentless and Lizzie had to cover all of them. It gives you a lot of strength knowing that your teammates have your back.”

    I’ve never understood the ‘one team leader’ tactic; it’s playing into your rivals’ hands. They can focus all their attention on beating the one guy. Better to keep them guessing.

    You’d have thought the debacle suffered by the men in London 2012 would have been lesson enough (not to mention the Froome/Wiggins fiasco), but apparently not.