So, after a tense and tactical race where all the big players traded moves, Amalie Dideriksen took on the dominant Dutch team and won in a thrilling finish. Lizzie Deignan has ended a tough, controversial year with a fourth-placed finish, but it was Dideriksen’s day. Thanks for joining me. Bye!
Wild looked bewildered to see the 20-year-old Dideriksen motor past her. That seemed entirely in her grasp, but she struggled to pull away and was caught cold by Dideriksen’s blistering finish. Lotta Lepisto came third, with Lizzie Deignan sprinting to a creditable fourth placed finish.
“I dreamed of a top ten... my team-mates were amazing today, I had a small crash and they brought me back,” says Dideriksen after the race, who admits her win “is a surprise for everybody”. Worth pointing out that she only had two team-mates – Julie Leth and Cecile Uttrup Ludwig – in the small Danish team.
Amalie Dideriksen wins the world road race!
Well... that was unexpected. Vos takes over with 300m to go, then Wild bursts for the line – but former world junior champion, Denmark’s Amalie Dideriksen jumps off her wheel to stun the favourite at the line!
500m to go! The Dutch are holding everyone at bay as the finish line coming into view, and this looks to be Wild’s race to lose...
1km to go! Van Dijk takes up the pace, as four Dutch riders including Kirsten Wild stay out in front. Deignan is in sixth wheel, with Dideriksen of Denmark and Lepisto behind, but the Australian team are struggling...
2km to go! The Netherlands’ pace has shredded what’s left of the peloton, leaving a group of around 20 riders in contention. Deignan, and Finnish sprinter Lotta Lepisto, are among those in with a chance if the Dutch team let this slip...
3km to go! The British trio do push up to try and compete with the Dutch, with Italy and Australia still in contention. King and Barnes don’t have any more to give, and leave Deignan on the wheel of the leading group in orange...
4km to go! Deignan is in around 20th position, tucked in behind King and Barnes – but as they turn for home, the Netherlands have half a dozen riders at the front, dominating the pack. It will be a surprise if they let this get away now...
Van Vleuten and Van Dijk take turns on the front of the Dutch train, keeping any attacks at bay and setting up Wild for the sprint finish. Chloe Hosking’s Australian team are well-placed, with British riders dropping back a little with 5km to go...
The Dutch team seem entirely unfazed by those British attacks, with Olympic champion Van der Breggen looking comfortable at the top. Are the riders resigned to a bunch sprint, or will Deignan make a move?
Here’s Leah Crampton, with an interesting insight into why it may be quiet in Qatar:
We live in the north of Qatar and always try to support the cyclists when the road races bring them up here. One year I was the lucky recipient of Mark Cavendish’s celebratory bunch of flowers! The heat and then traffic/roadworks in the city make it very challenging for expat support along the route at this time of day.
The big hitters are right at the front now, with Sweden’s Emma Johansson bursting clear, reined in by Deignan and Marianne Vos. The pack regroup, and the pace drops slightly; there’s 10km to go, and the Netherlands show their strength again with Anna van der Breggen leading the way.
King is followed by Dutch and Australian riders, who are digging into their reserves of energy to keep pace with her. She hasn’t got away, but has certainly made this final lap interesting. It’s another British rider who counters, with Hannah Barnes making the running. They’re working to set up a breakaway, and with it another world title for Lizzie Deignan...
The British team, who have been policing the peloton throughout the race, launch their first breakaway through Dani King, who darts into the lead and splits the pack! Neben, exhausted from that breakaway, has fallen straight through the bunch, and out the other side.
One lap to go! The bell rings and Neben crosses the line out in front – but with the peloton bearing down on her. We appear to be 15km from an all-out bunch sprint for the title, but there will surely be solo breakaways to contend with before then.
The Dutch team has so much pedigree – perhaps the best women’s team ever assembled – and Roxane Knetemann is the latest rider in orange to take up the reins, with the peloton moving at 41km/h, and still 20 seconds behind Neben.
Britain still have numbers at the front, perhaps waiting for instructions for defending champion Lizzie Deignan. Elsewhere, Ting Ying Huang, a capable sprinter from Chinese Taipei, has crashed and is looking worse for wear as she tries to rejoin the race.
Neben’s bid for glory looks set to fall short, with the gap just 20 seconds with 20km to go. Germany and Poland are making rare appearances at the front of the pack. It’s worth mentioning, given that this is a world championship event, that away from the finish line, absolutely no-one is watching from the side of the road.
The peloton has shed a fair few riders in the attritional heat, but the big players are present, and have cut the gap on Neben to 25 seconds. The American looking slightly less carefree at the front, with 22km to go, and events back in the pack aren’t going the USA’s way either – Carmen Small needs a tyre change, and is left waiting at the side of the road.
Two women that have driven the pace at different times today – Netherlands’ Ellen van Dijk and Australia’s Loren Rowney – lost touch with the main group at the start of this penultimate lap. Van Dijk has fought back, but Rowney’s race looks to be over. The same goes for Zabelinskaya, who has been disqualified and is waved off the course before she can begin another lap.
There’s still a lack of organisation at the front of the pack, which allows Neben, a time trial master, to maintain her lead around the western edge of the Pearl. Britain have eight riders, and haven’t put the work in that the Dutch have – what can Deignan, Barnes, King et al pull out of the bag in the latter stages? It’s all very tactical with just over 25km to go.
Two laps to go, and Neben crosses in a time of 2:27:53 – and a gap of 36 seconds, as the peloton begin to regain their momentum. It took me longer than two-and-a-half hours to go 120km yesterday, and I was a) not travelling in desert heat, and b) in a car.
Teams with pure sprinters in their midst – Wild’s Dutch team and Chloe Hosking’s Australia – are setting the pace at the top of the peloton, with Neben threatening to stretch her lead to a full minute. The shadows are lengthening in Doha, the temperature dropping a couple of degrees, but still unbelievably hot, of course.
Much like in the Rio road race, Deignan is keeping a low profile, occasionally visible near the front as other riders burn themselves out trying to haul Neben in. 35km to go, and the gap is 45 seconds. It’s still a big ask, but she looks remarkably comfortable.
Those capable of taking this race in a breakaway move are agitating at the front of the pack – including Vos and Deignan. They may need to form a separate group to reel Neben in, who is still 40 seconds clear. Further down the field, Zabelinskaya appears to have been disqualified, for getting a tow from her team to get back into the pack.
The Dutch team in an awkward spot now, lacking the legs to reel Neben in, and lacking support from the peloton after their aggressive tactics in the opening laps of this final circuit. Neben has stretched her lead to 40 seconds after that expertly timed breakaway.
After a nervous ride through the free zone which saw a couple of riders, including Russia’s Olga Zabelinskaya, forced off their bikes, we have a solo breakaway, with American Amber Neben taking advantage of a tired peloton to carve out a 20-second lead. The 41-year-old will be feeling confident; she won the time trial here four days ago.
Now it’s the turn of Anna van der Breggen, the Olympic champion, to crank up the pace, hands across the front of her handlebars, making it all look much easier than it actually is. Team-mate van Vleuten picks up the baton, and ends the fourth lap of the Pearl in the lead, followed by Sweden’s Sara Mustonen and Britain’s Hannah Barnes.
Dani King does make a move to keep pace with Vos, and a gap opens briefly before the peloton, led by Australia, reel them back in. Vos stays at the front as they take a tricky right-hand hairpin, before the Australian charge is weakened as Tiffany Cromwell suffers a mechanical problem, and falls a long way off the pace.
They’re moving through the gears along a shady section of road, with Annemiek van Vleuten setting the pace. After her horrific crash in Rio, it’s remarkable that she’s racing here at all. She makes way for Amy Pieters, and then Vos, as the Netherlands are forced to counter-attack themselves. None of the other nations stocked with riders are willing to get involved. 50km to go...
Hanselmann, previously part of a breakaway with Yonamine, is now rolling along at the back of the bunch, as shown by her on-board camera. The pack have passed through another feed zone and the pace has dropped, with riders dropping back to load up on refreshments.
Thanks Les. We’ve got 57km of racing to go, and another Dutch drive, led by the legendary Marianne Vos, has hauled in the breakaway. Every Dutch rider apart from sprinter Kirsten Wild has pulled away off the front, and it’s starting to wear the peloton out in 37-degree heat.
With 65km left, the Dutch push hard again at the front through Vos. Deignan is quick to respond. As the pace quickens, the head of the peloton is starting to thin visibly. And as the tension ratchets up, I’m going to hand over to my colleague Niall McVeigh, who will guide you through the remainder of the race.
Attack and retreat remains the order of the day as the big guns look to thin the field. Van der Breggen leads the latest charge by the Dutch, and it certainly has the desired effect, stretching the front of the peloton. Vos is up there too, with Deignan and King likewise firmly in the frame.
Spare a thought for Giorgia Bronzini, who was unable to contest the race after falling sick. The Italian would have been a real contender here. Elena Cecchini is going well in her team-mate’s absence; she’s currently about seven places back in the peloton.
As the riders complete the second lap, Israel’s Paz Bash moves to the front of the chasing pack. A brief feed zone frenzy ensues, with Nicole Cofino of Guatemala hitting the deck alongside one of the Ethiopian riders. Neither woman is hurt. Meanwhile, the leaders have a 25-second advantage.
With 77km remaining and 41 seconds to Yonamine and Hanselmann, Amy Pieters launches a Dutch breakaway at the front of the peloton. It doesn’t last long, but it could be part of a wider attempt to break up the Australian contingent. We’ll see.
Aussie, Aussie, Aussie! Which is to say, the Australians are coming. Or they may be, at least. Chloe Hosking is among a group of three or four jostling for position at the head of the peloton, and that’s one to keep an eye on. If any country can live with the Dutch contingent in a bunch sprint, it’ll be them. They’re joined by a glut of German riders.
Back at the front, where Yonamine has been joined by Nicole Hanselmann of Switzerland, there’s a 47-second gap to the field with 82km left. Surely the British will need to start thinking about splitting up the peloton soon? They can ill afford to sprint it out with the Dutch come the business end of proceedings. Speaking of the Netherlands, Vos is now close to the front of the peloton. She’s not been too prominent so far, but it’s unlikely things will stay that way.
And as I write that, race favourite Kirsten Wild is unseated following a slow-motion collision with Poland’s Alicja Ratajczak. She’s quickly up, is the Dutchwoman, and doesn’t look unduly perturbed, but her bike may have sustained some damage. She’s just had to stop again for a technical adjustment and it’ll be interesting to see how the Dutch team respond. Will they help her back into contention, or will they simply seek to capitalise on their compatriot’s misfortune?
With the race yet to start in earnest, the sprint specialists would doubtless be licking their lips if they weren’t so parched. Anna van der Breggen is at the head of the peloton, and you have to wonder whether the Dutch are trying to control the pace before battling it out late on. The big question being, as ever with Dutch teams, will they work for the collective good or break ranks in pursuit of solo glory?
Meanwhile, further up the field, there’s a 21-second gap between Yonamine and the chasing pack with 97km to go.
It’s not been a good race for Kuwait so far. Noura Alameeri suffered an early crash, and she’s now been joined on the sidelines by Nada Aljeraiwi, if I’m not mistaken. That leaves Naija Aljeraiwi as the sole Kuwaiti representative.
With 105km to go and the gap to Yonamine at 25 seconds, Russia hit the front of the peloton. There’s a grim determination etched on the collective countenance, with the riders desperately swilling water and dousing themselves with the dregs. Amber Neben, who is still bringing up the rear, is taking on ice. Looks like she’s collecting as much water as she can for her team-mates. No doubt they’ll be grateful.
Plenty of action at the first feed zone, with all the riders scrambling to get fluids on board. Who can blame them in these conditions? Meanwhile, Yonamine continues to set the pace. She’s half a minute ahead of the rest. Interestingly, the 25-year-old is a former tennis player who only switched to cycling while at university. Judging by her performance here, she must have been an attack-minded sort on the tennis court; clearly she enjoys carrying the fight to the opposition.
Team tactics are likely to have a big bearing on the race and, with that in mind, it’s interesting that Roxane Kneteman has moved to the front of the peloton. The Dutch are the only team other than Great Britain with a full complement of eight riders and, with sprinters of the quality of Wild and Vos in their ranks, they’ll be eager to ensure a fast finish.
Britain’s Hannah Barnes leads the peloton, which still lags Yonamine by about 20 seconds. It’s exhausting just watching, and we’re still on lap one of seven of this sweltering circuit.
With the Pearl looming, a bunch of British riders have made their way to the front of the peloton. Dani King, who missed out on Rio in such heartbreaking fashion, is up there. So too is Lizzie Deignan. The gap to Yonamine is down to 15 seconds, although not for Amber Neben. A problem with her chain stopped the American in her tracks a couple of minutes ago, although she’s making up ground fast at the back of the field.
Yonamine ploughs on into a light headwind of about five or six miles per hour. She’s about 38 seconds ahead of the main field at this stage. With the race expected to culminate in a bunch sprint, it’s interesting that she’s decided to seize the initiative so early. Fracturing the peloton is probably the best way to avoid a bunch finish, but it’ll take serious stamina to make the running and then break away from a smaller group in the closing stages.
Yonamine continues to set the pace, with the gap to the peloton about 20 seconds.
The distinctive Qatari landscape, full of cranes and construction sites, flashes past as the riders make their way towards the Pearl, an artificial island off the West Bay. Japan’s Eri Yonamine has made an early break from the peloton, but there’s no immediate reaction from the chasing pack. Little wonder, with 133 kms remaining.
They’re off! It looks swelteringly hot and, as the riders make their way around the wide, open roads of Qatar’s Education City, the peloton looks loose and relaxed. No surprise there. These are not the conditions in which to make a flying start.
Good morning and welcome. If you like your sport laced with dramatic subplots, you’ve come to the right place. While the competitors in this year’s women’s road race world championships will have their eyes firmly on the prize, the contest promises a host of potentially spellbinding sideshows and minor-key dramas. British interest will focus on Lizzie Deignan, the reigning champion, who is approaching the 134.5km course around Doha as “the last weekend of a tough year” defined by her successful appeal against a doping ban in the prelude to the Olympics. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the controversy in which she became embroiled after missing three tests under the whereabouts rule has taken a mental toll on Deignan, and the noises emanating from her camp – not to mention the rider herself – suggest the combined effects of fatigue and an unfavourable course may be too much to handle.
But it’s not all about Deignan. A flat course with no climbs will inevitably favour the sprinters, which makes Kirsten Wild of the Netherlands the woman to beat. Australia’s Chloe Hosking, who in July sped to a brilliant La Course victory on the Champs Élysées, has been preparing for the sweltering conditions in the Qatar capital by transforming her bathroom into a temporary sauna; she’s no slouch either. Ditto Marianne Vos, another former La Course winner, who has no fewer than seven sprint victories to her name this year. And let’s not forget her Dutch compatriot, Annemiek van Vleuten, who crashed out of the Olympic road race in such horrific fashion but – having recovered from a cracked spine – is fit and raring to go again. What a story it would be if she could win today.
All that, and we haven’t even mentioned Olympic champion Anna van der Breggen, or the Belgian speedster Jolien D’Hoore. It should be quite a race.