Elisa Balsamo outkicks Marianne Vos to score women’s road race title

The 23-year-old Balsamo delivered after a huge ride from the Italian team in the final to score another medal for 'the Azzurri.'

Photo: Getty Images

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Elisa Balsamo (Italy) had the power to better Marianne Vos (Netherlands) in the final sprint to win the world road race title Saturday.

Balsamo, 23, kicked from her teammate Elisa Longo Borghini‘s wheel at 50 meters to go in Leuven, and fended off a muscling charge from Vos to win the first women’s road race title for Italy since Giorgia Bronzini wore the rainbow jersey in 2011.

Kasia Niewiadoma (Poland) edged out Blanka Vas (Hungary) a split second later to place third.

“I’m totally speechless, I have no words to describe this feeling, it’s unbelievable,” Balsamo said. “It was a dream for me after this long season. My team was so good, without them, this jersey wasn’t possible.”

Balsamo was the junior road race world champion in 2016 and is set to step up to the WorldTour with Trek-Segafredo in 2022 after a standout season with team Valcar Travel & Service. She paid tribute to her future teammate Longo Borghini’s huge pull in the final hundred meters.

“My team made a perfect leadout, and I really believed in them,” Balsamo said. “After the last corner I switched off my brain and said ‘you have to go full gas, don’t watch behind.'”

“I need some days to realize today’s race.”


Coryn Rivera was the best-placed American, finishing 10th following top support from Ruth Winder, racing in her final race.

The Italian team had worked hard to keep their young sprinter in position through the tight final circuit in Leuven.

Annemiek van Vleuten (Netherlands) had repeatedly attacked in the final 10 kilometers, with Niewiadoma, Winder and a handful of Italian riders always close on the wheel. Niewiadoma was aggressive through the final circuit of Leuven but couldn’t make the difference as the Dutch team used numbers to smother the threats.

Niewiadoma attacked again inside the closing kilometers only for newly crowned TT champ Ellen van Dijk (Netherlands) to shut down the move after working tirelessly through the race.

Three Italian riders led the reduced peloton into the grinding final sprint for Balsamo. Longo Borghini started pulling at around 200 meters to go before unleashing Balsamo for her world title-winning kick. Vos responded, but the triple world champ was unable to pull back the charging 23-year-old as the Italian team scored its third gold medal of the championships after Filippo Ganna and Filippo Baroncini.

Defending champion Anna van der Breggen (Netherlands) was caught on the wrong side of a split midway through what was her final race before retirement. Van der Breggen worked as domestique through the opening-half of the race as she looked to repay years of work from her Dutch teammates.

The race took some time to break open before an all-attacking back-half. The British and Dutch teams had taken control through the first 90km to reel in a speculative early two-rider break and then pull back Kiwi rider Michaela Drummond.

The racing only kick-started on the Flanders loop as teams massed to the front to keep position, and the Dutch team started to dial up the pressure with van der Breggen, van Vleuten and Lucinda Brand.

An attack from Ashleigh Moolman Pasio and Niewiadoma at 48km to go created the first selection. The Dutch squad stacked four riders into a split of around 25 and cranked the pace as home favorite Lotte Lopecky struggled in the chase group. Emma Norsgaard (Denmark) and van der Breggen were also caught on the wrong side of the split.

Riders started piling back into the front group while the Dutch team tried to keep the pressure high, with van Vleuten, van Dijk and Chantaal van den Broek Blaak taking turns to motor on the front.

By the time the race re-entered the Leuven loop, the group had swelled back to around 45 riders with Kopecky back into contention. The Italian unit kept its powder dry through the series of splits and regroupings as their blue jerseys made a constant feature toward the front of the race.

Aude Biannic (France) and Marlen Reusser (Switzerland) were the first to try to go clear from the reformed front group before Mavi García (Spain) managed to kick away at 25km to go.

Niewiadoma attacked hard on the Wijnpers climb to force a split of around a dozen riders filled with Italian and Dutch racers before the action reformed once again just a kilometer later.

García’s brave solo was brought back just 10km from the line as van Dijk and van Vleuten hammered on the front to pull the lead peloton into the final circuit and set the race toward its sprint finish.

World Championships WE - Road Race Results

1BALSAMO ElisaItaly3:52:27
2VOS MarianneNetherlands0:00
3NIEWIADOMA KatarzynaPoland0:01
4VAS BlankaHungary0:01
5SIERRA ArlenisCuba0:01
6JACKSON AlisonCanada0:01
7VOLLERING DemiNetherlands0:01
8LUDWIG Cecilie UttrupDenmark0:01
9BRENNAUER LisaGermany0:01
10LABECKI CorynUnited States0:01
11MOOLMAN AshleighSouth Africa0:01
12AMIALIUSIK AlenaBelarus0:01
13CHABBEY EliseSwitzerland0:01
14DEIGNAN ElizabethGreat Britain0:01
15FREI SinaSwitzerland0:01
16KOPECKY LotteBelgium0:01
17LONGO BORGHINI ElisaItaly0:01
18VAN DIJK EllenNetherlands0:08
19VAN VLEUTEN AnnemiekNetherlands0:08
20CAVALLI MartaItaly0:15
21EDWARDS RuthUnited States0:17
22BASTIANELLI MartaItaly0:17
23CONFALONIERI Maria GiuliaItaly0:29
24NEYLAN RachelAustralia0:45
25HENDERSON AnnaGreat Britain0:49
26HARRIS EllaNew Zealand0:49
27CORDON-RAGOT AudreyFrance0:49
28KERN ŠpelaSlovenia0:50
29GARCÍA MaviSpain0:50
30PIETERS AmyNetherlands0:50
31CANUEL Karol-AnnCanada0:50
32VAN DEN BROEK-BLAAK ChantalNetherlands0:50
33MAJERUS ChristineLuxembourg0:50
34D'HOORE JolienBelgium1:21
35GEORGI PfeifferGreat Britain1:21
36BRAND LucindaNetherlands3:01
37KOCH FranziskaGermany3:29
38ROY SarahAustralia3:31
39SANTESTEBAN AneSpain3:31
40SHACKLEY AnnaGreat Britain3:31
41CROMWELL TiffanyAustralia3:31
42PATIÑO PaulaColombia3:31
43NILSSON HannaSweden3:31
44SHAPIRA OmerIsrael3:31
45BIANNIC AudeFrance3:34
46LABOUS JulietteFrance3:34
47YSLAND Anne DortheNorway6:23
48VANDENBULCKE JesseBelgium7:31
49DUVAL EugénieFrance7:31
50MUZIC ÉvitaFrance7:31
51KUMIEGA KarolinaPoland7:31
52FAULKNER KristenUnited States8:22
53LACH MartaPoland8:50
54LELEIVYTĖ RasaLithuania8:50
55MERINO EiderSpain8:55
56THOMAS LeahUnited States9:13
57SOLOVEI GannaUkraine9:13
58BUJAK EugeniaSlovenia9:13
59BOSSUYT ShariBelgium9:13
60MACHAČOVÁ JarmilaCzech Republic9:13
61PREEN HayleySouth Africa9:13
62RÜEGG NoemiSwitzerland9:13
63KIRCHMANN LeahCanada9:13
64DRUMMOND MichaelaNew Zealand9:13
65DIDERIKSEN AmalieDenmark9:13
66KLEIN LisaGermany9:13
67RIJKES SarahAustria9:13
68JASKULSKA MartaPoland9:13
69MARTÍN SaraSpain9:13
70KOLESAVA AnastasiyaBelarus9:13
71WILES TaylerUnited States9:13
72NERLO AurelaPoland9:13
73EKLUND NathalieSweden9:13
74HAMMES KathrinGermany9:13
75ANDERSEN SusanneNorway9:13
76DEMEY ValerieBelgium9:13
77OYARBIDE LourdesSpain9:13
78GÅSKJENN IngvildNorway9:13
79NORMAN LETH JulieDenmark9:13
80BORGLI StineNorway9:13
81GUTIÉRREZ SheylaSpain9:13
82NORSGAARD EmmaDenmark9:13
83AALERUD KatrineNorway9:13
84BARNES AliceGreat Britain9:13
85YONAMINE EriJapan9:13
86GAFINOVITZ RotemIsrael9:13
87KASPER RomyGermany9:25
88TEUTENBERG Lea LinGermany9:25
89VAN DER BREGGEN AnnaNetherlands9:30
90REUSSER MarlenSwitzerland9:30
91FISHER-BLACK NiamhNew Zealand9:30
92HANSON LaurettaAustralia9:30
93SPRATT AmandaAustralia9:30
94GUAZZINI VittoriaItaly9:30
95CECCHINI ElenaItaly9:30
96JENSEN MaritaDenmark13:21
97KARASIEWICZ KarolinaPoland13:21
98PEÑUELA DianaColombia13:21
99SALAZAR Lizbeth YareliMexico13:21
100SOMRAT PhetdarinThailand13:21
101BORGSTRÖM JuliaSweden13:21
102HOLMSGAARD TrineDenmark13:21
103CAMPOS DanielaPortugal13:21
104SCHWEINBERGER ChristinaAustria13:21
105BAUR CarolineSwitzerland13:21
106STEPHENS LaurenUnited States13:21
107KONONENKO ValeriyaUkraine13:21
108ROŽLAPA DanaLatvia13:21
109FOURNIER RoxaneFrance13:21
110ERIĆ JelenaSerbia13:21
111ALLEN JessicaAustralia13:21
112JANSE VAN RENSBURG FrancesSouth Africa18:47
113BIRIUKOVA YuliiaUkraine18:47
114KUSKOVA YaninaUzbekistan18:47
115ČEŠULIENĖ IngaLithuania18:47
116BERTON NinaLuxembourg22:01
117COLMENARES Yeny LorenaColombia22:01

Results provided by ProCyclingStats.

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