World champion Anna van der Breggen proved she is ready to defend her title, winning the GP Plouay with a solo attack on Saturday. The Boels-Dolmans rider made her move with around 10 of the 128.6km race remaining, surviving repeated attempts to bring her back to win by 11 seconds.
The bunch sprint for podium places was won by American Coryn Rivera (Sunweb) with Van der Breggen’s Boels-Dolmans team mate and last year’s winner Amy Pieters finishing third.
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Immediately after van der Breggen made her move off the front, a small group of three chasers formed immediately. Alena Amialiusik (Canyon-SRAM), Soraya Paladin (Alé-Cipollini) and Amanda Spratt (Mitchelton-Scott) were a powerful trio, bringing the gap to just ten seconds.
However, they were unable to bring the world champion under control though, and were caught by the bunch, just over five kilometres from the line.
In the closing five kilometres other efforts were made by riders and teams desperate to take the win, while all the time Pieters, in her distinctive European champion’s jersey, lurked on their wheel. With van der Breggen holding on her sprint was not needed.
The race was the culmination of excellent team work from Boels-Dolmans who were active throughout the day. Former world champion Chantal Blaak was aggressive in her first race back after a back injury, and Katie Hall was also on the attack, the rest of the team chasing breaks and other attacks.
But it was Van der Breggen and Pieters who were most active, both making their way into an earlier breakaway, and the former constantly in position to chase away move with minimum effort.
How it happened
Though the pace was high, the race was strangely benign in the opening 50 kilometres, with no attacks able to make any headway and a breakaway not permitted. However the race then exploded into a give of exciting activity.
After passing the line at the end of the fourth of six opening 16.8km laps, a group of 11 riders, including world champion Anna van der Breggen (Boels-Dolmans) escaped, building a lead of 30 seconds.
Just after the ascent of the circuit’s final climb, the Ty Marec they were caught and the peloton crossed the line some three kilometres later all together.
However, as they left Plouay, on the the circuit’s opening climb, Côte du Mouliin a further group, this time around 18 riders, got away, again including van der Breggen and at least one team mate. With many of the main teams represented in that group it was possible this selection would make it, but they too were brought back on the technical back end of the circuit.
The opening climbs of the first of two shorter 13.9km closing laps saw further action, with Boels-Dolmans, Trek-Segafredo and WNT-Rotor all active as rain began to fall on Brittany, though none of these efforts were able to gain traction.
The penultimate ascent of the Ty Marec, the race’s signature climb saw no action, though once again, over the top a flurry of attacks punctuated the closing kilometres of the circuit.
Approaching the line, Laura Asnecio (WNT-Rotor) launched a solo breakaway and for a while the home rider was making good progress, however, the moment she was brought back by a Bigla team counter attack, van der Breggen launched her winning move.
The Women’s WorldTour continues on Tuesday, with the six day Boels Ladies Tour in the Netherlands. Marianne Vos (CCC-Liv) was not at Plouay, but currently leads the individual standings, with Boels-Dolmans still at the top of the team classification.
Grand Prix Plouay Lorient Agglomération Tophée WNT
1. Anna van der Breggen (Ned) Boels-Dolmans in 3-21-54
2. Coryn Rivera (USA) Sunweb
3. Amy Pieters (Ned) Boels-Dolmans
4. Marta Cavalli (Ita) Valcar Cylance
5. Demi Vollering (Ned) Parhotel Valkenburg
6. Stine Borgli (Nor) FDJ- Nouvelle Aquitaine-Futuroscope
7. Sofie De Vuyst (Bel) Parkhotel-Valkenburg
8. Flavia de Oliveira Paparell (Bra) Memorial Santos
9. Ruth Winder (USA) Trek-Segafredo
10. Elena Cecchini (Ita) Canyon-SRAM all at same time