Continuing her remarkable winning streak, Lizzie Armitstead won the third race of the Women’s WorldTour, the Trofeo Alfredo Binda Comune di Cittiglio in Itlay on Sunday.
After being dropped on the final climb, the world champion escaped in a group of six riders with four kilometres to race, catching solo leader and Swiss champion Jolanda Neff (Servetto-Footon), who she out-sprinted to take her second WorldTour win of the year.
The final kilometres were a tight affair, the duo’s gap down to five seconds as they entered the finishing straight. Indeed, as Armitstead crossed the line, the Swiss was caught by the world champion’s Boels-Dolmans team-mate, American champion Megan Guarnier, who took second place, with Neff in third.
The event – on a hilly 123 km course near Lake Maggiore, north of Milan – comprised one large lap followed by four 17km circuits, each taking in the testing climb to Orino, where most of the action took place.
Carmen Small (Cervelo-Bigla) and Ann-Sophie Duyck (Lotto-Soudal Ladies) managed to build a lead of over a minute, having gone clear of the peloton on that climb, but the race was a cagey affair throughout and that pair were never allowed too much leeway.
The decisive group of eight strong riders broke free on the penultimate climb to Orino, catching Small, who was by then racing solo, as they reached the top.
As the leading group, which included Anna van der Breggen (Rabo-Liv), wearing the WorldTour leader’s jersey crossed the line for the final time, their gap, which had built to over a minute on the preceding circuit, began to tumble.
Watch: Women’s WorldTour contenders 2016
On the final ascent this lead was less than 40 seconds and a regrouping looked possible, however, Neff’s attack seemed to take the sting out of the chase, despite her building an advantage of 40 seconds at the top.
A period of tactical poker ensued, when no one would chase the Swiss mountain bike star down, but it was this stalemate which brought Armitstead’s attack and her third victory in the three races she has finished this season.
“It’s going very well,” Armitstead told Cycling Weekly. “I was working for Megan but it just happened. I was frustrated by a lack of cooperation, so I did quite a bit of work at the front, then Rabo attacked on the final climb. I was dropped but I had them in sight and attacked just as I caught them on the descent.”
The team have won all three of the WorldTour events this year: a record Armitstead attributes to team work. “We really commit to team work,” she explained. “In race situations things can go wrong and you have to be able to work well without always having a radio. We have an instinct between us all.”
Armitstead’s win puts her back at the top of the UCI Women’s WorldTour standings going into next week’s fourth round, Ghent-Wevelgem.
Trofeo Alfredo Binda 2016
1. Lizzie Armitstead (GBr) Boels-Dolmans in 3-11-10
2. Megan Guarnier (USA) Boels Dolmans at 1 sec
3. Jolanda Neff (Swi) Servetto-Footon at 4 secs
4. Emma Johansson (Swe) Wiggle-High5
5. Alena Amialiusik (Blr) Canyon-SRAM
6. Anna Van Der Breggen (Ned) Rabo-Liv at same time
7. Katarzyna Niewiadoma (Pol) Rabo-Liv at 11 secs
8. Annemiek Van Vleuten (Ned) Orica-AIS at 39 secs
9. Lauren Kitchen (Aus) Hitec Products at 1-06
10. Giorgia Bronzini (Ita) Wiggle High5 at same time