We pick out the leading contenders for the elite women's road race at the 2014 UCI Road World Championships
The elite women’s road race at the 2014 UCI Road World Championships takes place on Saturday, September 27, and as you would expect it features a who’s who of the world’s top racers.
Dutchwoman Marianne Vos goes into the event as defending champion and favourite, but she may face stiff opposition from several riders and their national teams. Britain’s hopes are pinned on 2014 World Cup champion Lizzie Armitstead.
Here we rate individual riders chances during the 127km race. For more information, see our women’s road race preview.
Marianne Vos, NetherlandsThere are few safer bets in sport than backing Vos to finish on the podium at the Worlds – after all, she has done in each of her last eight attempts. The question is on which step will she place? There are murmurs about her form after she was dropped by her teammates at the team time trial event last weekend, but it must be remembered that she is not a specialist against the clock.
Emma Johansson, SwedenLast year’s runner-up is looking to go one better in Ponferrada, and looks the rider best equipped to dethrone Vos. A season of consistency saw her finish second in the world cup, second at the Women’s tour and finish second on the world rankings, but she has struggled to convert these runner-up finishes into victories. A medal seems likely, but probably not gold.
Lizzie Armitstead, Great BritainLike Johansson, Armitstead has ridden consistently all year, so much so that she won the World Cup by a comfortable margin in excess of 100 points. But she too has struggled to land big wins this season, and will struggle to drop all the riders she needs to in order to claim gold. A medal looks likely, nonetheless.
Giorgia Bronzini, ItalyIn the absence of Kirsten Wild, Bronzini looks like the race’s most fearsome sprinter. The Italian has an excellent record in the race, having won in both 2010 and 2011, and will be difficult to beat in a bunch finish should race prove less selective than expected. The course does, however, look difficult enough for attacks to stick.
Pauline Ferrand Prevot. FranceThe 22-year-old is one of the most talented prospects in the peloton, and has enjoyed a breakthrough season which has included victory in the Fleche Wallonne and second overall in the Giro Rosa. Her inexperience may however be exposed in the gruelling Worlds course.
Ellen Van Dijk, NetherlandsThe Dutch team may be missing its star domestique in Anna Van der Breggen, but still have the considerable talents of Ellen Van Dijk at their disposal. The Tour of Flanders winner is looking to bounce back from the disappointment from failing to defend her world time trial title this week and, although she will be used primarily as a helper, has the power to win herself should the Dutch team utilise her as a carrot for other teams to chase.
Elisa Borghini, ItalyShould the race prove too difficult for Bronzini, the Italian team has Borghini and Rossella Ratto to fall back on. Borghini looks the best bet having finished third back in 2012 and won the Trophee d’Or Feminin last month, although there’s no telling yet what Ratto – aged just 20 – is capable of.