Saturday’s penultimate round of the Women’s WorldTour brought a surprise result with Eugenia Bujak taking victory ahead of the bigger names at the GP de Plouay Bretagne.
Riding for the Slovenian BTC-City Ljubljana team, the Polish rider sprinted from a small peloton to the biggest win of her career.
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The 27-year-old had been dropped on the final climb of the day, the Côte de Ty Marrec, just four kilometres from the finish. However, working with seven other riders, including former world champion Marianne Vos, she made contact with six leaders as they passed under the flamme rouge before launching her sprint.
The GP Plouay always provides exciting racing and this year was no different. On the first of four laps of a hilly 26.9km circuit Bujak’s Slovenian team mate, Špela Kern attacked, building a lead of 30 seconds. By the end of the second lap, however, she was caught by a peloton led by the bigger teams.
The climb of Ty Marrec was the sting in the tail of each of the larger, and the final 13.9km laps, and it was on the third ascent that Rabo-Liv’s own Polish rider, the highly promising Kasia Niewiadoma accelerated, splitting the peloton in two. From there on the bigger teams remained in charge until the final sprint for the line.
At the end of that lap, British world champion Lizzie Armitstead, acting as domestique de-luxe, led the peloton across the line, later shredding the remaining group on the climb of Côte du Lezot. This left a much reduced peloton to contest the final 50km.
Contenders for the 2016 women’s WorldTour
Rabo-Liv’s Lucinda Brand broke clear on the final long lap, but it was Armitstead and her Boels-Dolmans team, working with Lotto-Soudal Ladies who brought her back.
Though the Englishwoman was dropped shortly afterwards, she rejoined the group, working briefly on the front, before the Ty Marrec separated both her and her and Canadian team mate Carol-Ann Canuel from the front of the race.
This left American Megan Guarnier, with one race remaining already confirmed as winner of the WorldTour, as the only Boels-Dolmans rider in a group of about 22 riders who contested the final lap.
A final lap solo effort by Liv-Plantur’s Leah Kirchmann was neutralised largely due to the efforts of Niewiadoma and Vos. Though they eventually paid for their efforts, Vos especially as the Ty Marrec took her as another casualty.
A group of six escaped over the top of the climb and it seemed it had once again proved the springboard for a decisive move. However, as the sextet began looking to each other, the chasing eight riders, including Bujak, got back on.
It has been a good year Bujak, is in her third year at the Slovenian team. She has bagged a number of top ten results, and last month won two stages of the Route de France, taking her to third on general classification of the eight stage race.
The final event of the Women’s WorldTour, the Madrid Challenge by la Vuelta takes place on September 11. It follows the same format as La Course by Le Tour, a city centre race on the final circuit of a Grand Tour, and is likely to end in a sprint finish.
Grand Prix de Plouay-Bretagne – 121.5km
1. Eugenia Bujak (Pol) BTC-City Ljubljana, 3-12-31
2. Elena Cecchini (Ita) Canyon-SRAM,
3. Joelle Numainville (Can) Cévelo-Bigla,
4. Kasia Niewiadoma (Pol) Rabo-Liv,
5. Megan Guarnier (USA) Boels-Dolmans,
6. Leah Kirchmann (Can) Liv-Plantur,
7. Carmen Small (USA) Cylance,
8. Katrin Garfoot (Aus) Orica-AIS,
9. Elisa Longo-Borghini (Ita) Wiggle High5,
10. Alena Amialiusik (Blr) Canyon-SRAM, all same time