Cycling World Championships 2019: Van Vleuten takes road race glory – as it happened

Last modified: 03: 23 PM GMT+0

A 105km solo effort for the ages from Annemiek van Vleuten brought her the gold, with last year’s champion Anna van der Breggen taking silver

William Fotheringham's report from Harrogate

Here’s our correspondent’s testimony from the finish line. An absolutely staggering, ultimately 105km effort from the Dutch victor. Tomorrow: the men take to the roads, but it’s going to take some doing to better that. Time to wrap up here – thanks for joining us!


Van Vleuten and Deignan speak!

Annemiek van Vleuten, speaking to the BBC, said: “It was a crazy plan. It was actually not planned. I wanted to go hard on the climb. It was crazy. I train a lot and that helped me. So many emotions. My mother is here, that means a lot to me. It was such a big dream to me. I really enjoyed all the people here today. Such a different taste to the time-trial.

“I thought was my big opportunity. It was really hard to come back from injury – a really hard period. Now I have time to enjoy it. [It will be a] super-good podium!”

Annemiek van Vleuten celebrates after winning the women elite race.
Annemiek van Vleuten celebrates her victory. Photograph: Manu Fernández/AP

Chris Boardman added of her performance: “I’ve never seen anything like it. It was fantastic, and a very brave effort to go from that far out. She deserved it.”

An extremely emotional Lizzie Deignan reflected on her own efforts: “I’m super-happy, physically, with my performance but tactically it was a masterclass in how to get it wrong. I probably should have readjusted earlier. I was going for the rainbow. I went for the gold … Annemiek was in a class of her own.”

Lizzie Deignan after the race.
Lizzie Deignan after the race. Photograph: Tim Goode/PA


Marianne Vos kicks clear of the peloton in a crowd-pleasing final sprint. Lizzie Deignan ultimately crossed as part of the bunch in 31st place, at 5:31 off the front.

Van der Breggen crosses in second, 2:15 back. And despite Spratt – who finished runner-up last year – digging in at the finish, she just couldn’t get back to the champion.

Dygert’s valiant chasing effort was ultimately in vain, as she finishes fourth, 3:24 behind the leader. She is absolutely spent. They all are, to be fair.

Annemiek van Vleuten wins!

Incredible. Twice world time-trial champion, and now the road race victor. By a distance, too.

That was a ONE HUNDRED KILOMETRE breakaway. Bloody hell.

Netherland’s Annemiek van Vleuten celebrates winning the Women’s Elite Road Race from Bradford to Harrogate.
Netherland’s Annemiek van Vleuten celebrates winning the Women’s Elite Road Race from Bradford to Harrogate. Photograph: Tim Goode/PA


1km to go. It’s Van Vleuten, Van der Breggen, Spratt, in that order. But the places on the podium won’t reflect the dominance of the victor.

2.5km to go. Van Vleuten is smiling for the cameras and gesturing for the crowds to roar her in. She knows she has it in the bag. Things haven’t gone completely as planned for Dutch riders this week, particularly in the women’s time trial, but this is a performance to treasure.

Van der Breggen kicks for silver

4.9km to go. In the blink of an eye, the champion dug in and pulled five metres out of her Australian rival. The favourite for the race suddenly has clear road between second and third places. Despite these efforts, Van Vleuten is STILL extending her lead – now 2:14. If anyone will take your money betting against it, a Dutch one-two looks assured.


6km to go. And no mistake, the race for gold in this race is all about Van Vleuten. With breakaways, it’s incredibly easy to ignore the rider out front and concentrate on the efforts of those hammering it out for the minor places. This has been an almost 100km solo effort from last year’s time-trial winner. It’s been an absolutely phenomenal performance.


9km to go. Spratt has a go. With Van der Breggen having taken most of the initiative in chasing down Dygert, the Australian rider tests the champion.

Van Vleuten’s lead is 2:19 and, with so little road ahead, at this stage she could get off for a quick walk around and still have time in hand.

No response from Dygert, and she’s stuck fast in fourth at this stage.

Dygert is reeled in

12.7km to go. Dygert is caught. She tries desperately to hang on to the pair passing her, but the rhythm and the momentum is clearly with Van der Breggen and Spratt and her hopes of a second medal, following her time-trial heroics earlier in the week, look done.

Deignan crosses in sixth with a lap to go, and after a long time riding on her own, the peloton has her. There’ll be no medal for the Brit this year.

14km to go. Van Vleuten takes the bell, and she’s being roared through by the fans roadside.

Dygert is rocking slightly, and is being reeled in by Van der Breggen and Spratt. As she takes the bell, the gap is nine seconds to the riders in third and fourth.

Longo Borghini, blowing hard, is 30 seconds behind in fifth.

Annemiek van Vleuten is cheered on by the fans.
Annemiek van Vleuten is cheered on by the fans. Photograph: Manu Fernández/AP


15km to go. Van der Breggen, last year’s winner, looks like she’s not just trying to fight for the bronze medal. The gold looks like it’s gone, but both she and Spratt smell silver.

Van Vleuten is 2:15 clear out front. At this stage if she stays on her bike, she wins.

Longo Borghini is dropped

18km to go. Suddenly it looks like four riders fighting for three podium places. Longo Borghini can’t respond to a push from Van der Breggen, and now the Dutch rider only has Spratt for company. The gap to Dygert is 20 seconds.

Varvara Fasoi, the sole rider from Greece in the lineup, has dropped out.


20km to go. Van der Breggen, Spratt and Longo Borghini smell blood. The trio currently fighting it out for third place may soon be duking it out for silver, as they hit a long straight stretch of road where they can count the gap out for themselves. Dygert isn’t done, however, and has pulled a few more seconds out.


21km to go. Suddenly, the chase is flagging. With 23.7km to go, Dygert showed signs of flagging somewhat in second place. After a hell of an effort, the gap is 20 seconds ahead of the chase trio, but falling back from Van Vleuten. Signs of grimacing and after looking like having silver in her grasp, she may soon face a challenge to get a medal at all.

Van Vleuten’s putting in one hell of a solo effort up front and still looks so strong. She has a lead of precisely 2:00.

25km to go. Dygert is not messing about with her racing line – some of her cornering is alarmingly close to the barriers. As she reaches the two-laps-to-go mark, the gap from second to first is 1:49. At this rate it will take a huge dip from Van Vleuten to help her cause, but the American is clearly the rider of interest as far as the destiny of the medals is concerned. She has a 28-second cushion from the chasers.

Deignan’s podium hopes may be done – she is exactly three minutes back from Van Vleuten as she crosses the line with two circuits remaining. The peloton is 4:38 back from the lead.

29km to go: Van Vleuten’s lead has just dipped back under two minutes. And it’s falling all the time. This is an incredible effort from Dygert. At 28km, it’s down to 1:54. There’s two laps to go.


30km to go. Dygert is now 17 seconds clear of the chase group. Van der Breggen is working hard on the Oak Beck climb to close in with Spratt and Longo Borghini in tow, but the American’s move looks decisive. Dygert looks set to pull the gap to leader Van Vleuten back under two minutes.

Home hope Deignan isn’t done entirely and looks to be closing back in on the chasers, but it will take some ride for her to get a medal here.

Deignan falls off the back of the chase group

35km to go. Deignan has fallen off the back of the chase group. Dygert’s push has hurt those riders around her, and the gap is now 2:12. Van der Breggen still looks unbelievably fresh.

A replay of Dygert’s initial attack shows how she caught the chasers by surprise – she swung to the right of the road, dug into the pedals to storm past half a dozen riders, and had a 10-metre cushion before anyone seemed to notice.

🚨 @chloedygert30 attacks 🚨

The World Time Trial Champion is riding clear of the chasers. But @AnnavdBreggen is now clawing her back. #Yorkshire2019

— UCI (@UCI_cycling) September 28, 2019


40km to go. Afternoon all, Stuart here and enormous thanks to Tom for an epic stint across road and rugby madness today.

The gap from leader Van Vleuten briefly reached the 2:45 mark, but Dygert is having another go at the front of the chase group, and that time is coming down. Some untidiness handing over to riders in the feed zone resulted in at least one briefly being unseated, but thankfully nothing too serious.


45km to go. Van Vleuten, a time trial specialist, now has 2min 10secs on the chasing group so talk on TV turns to solo victories. The Dutch leader is nearing the start of the circuit so the group behind will have to put in a concerted effort to catch her, which all suits Van der Breggen who has done no work. That it for me on the blog, I am handing you over to my colleague Stuart Goodwin to see over the line.

Annemiek Van Vleuten negotiates a bend.
Annemiek Van Vleuten negotiates a bend. Photograph: Justin Setterfield/Getty Images


50km to go. Deignan is forcing the pace at the front of the group but Van Vleuten remains well ahead, some 1min 35secs. Further back the Dutch have posted a rider on the front of the main bunch, perhaps an effort to bring this back together.

55km to go. Deignan makes a burst off the front of the chase group to test the legs of those around her. The group remains together but the Briton will have a better idea of who can go with her should she try a more sustained breakaway.

63km to go. Ven Vleuten has stretched her lead out to 1min 20secs as we go over a lumpy section before the Harrogate circuits.

71km to go. An update on the chasing group, Deignan is alongside Van der Breggen (NED), Elisa Longo Borghini, Soraya Paladin (ITA), Clara Koppenburg (GER), Amanda Spratt (AUS), Chloe Dygert (USA) and Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig (DEN).

73km to go. The time gaps are fluctuating but Van Vleuten is holding strong at the front. She will be concerned that she has been unable to stretch the gap further.

On the side of the roads the Yorkshire crowds are deep and loud, they have also been blessed with sunshine in late September too.

80km to go. The peloton is going backwards, the chase riders have about 3mins on the bunch behind, Van Vleuten is holding her gap.


87km to go. The gap to Van Vleuten is coming down a bit, back below 50 seconds. Behind Deignan and co., the likes of Marianne Vos and Chantal Blaak are losing time in the main peloton. The gap is about 1min 20 secs between the peloton and the chasers, meaning that currently only Dutch riders are in any position to win. Currently the Netherlands are wasting the majority of their deep squad.

97km to go. Alongside Deignan in the chasing group we have Van der Breggen (NED), Elisa Longo Borghini, Soraya Paladin (ITA), Clara Koppenburg (GER), Amanda Spratt (AUS), Chloe Dygert, Tayler Wiles , Ruth Winder (USA), Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig (DEN) and Ashleigh Pasio-Moolman (RSA).

101km to go. Van Vleuten is haring down the hill, she has 1min 10secs on the chasers.

103km to go. Van Vleuten has got out to about a 55 seconds on the chasers, there is not a lot of the climb left. Deignan has a little dart and takes a few riders with her, whittling down the group further.

Great Britain’s Elizabeth Deignan leads a group of riders.
Great Britain’s Elizabeth Deignan leads a group of riders. Photograph: Bradley Collyer/PA
The Peloton pass through Lofthouse.
The Peloton pass through Lofthouse. Photograph: Bradley Collyer/PA


104km to go. Annemiek van Vleuten is putting the pedal down and Deignan initially started to go with her before opting to ride within herself. The two-time time trial world champion is pulling away but there is an elite group behind her, featuring Deignan and Anna van der Breggen.

109km to go. Just a few more kilomtres before we hit Lofthouse. There is a bit of jostling from the major teams to ensure they are well positioned for the climb.

Lizzie Deignan’s husband Philip has a neat preview of what’s to come on the Harrogate circuit:

Find out all you need to know about the Harrogate Circuit part of today’s Women Elite Road Race! 🔁#Yorkshire2019
🎥 @EBU_HQ #EurovisionSport

— UCI (@UCI_cycling) September 28, 2019

119km to go. The British team are together at the front of the peloton as they go through a more serene part of the course. We get the major climb in about 12 kilometres, that should liven things up a bit.

128km to go. Banks goes down again at the back of the peloton, again it is nothing serious but New Zealand’s Ella Banks suffers a lengthier bike issue and loses about 30 seconds in a bike change.

129km to go. The Dutch are not holding back, sending Floortje Mackaij up the road now the peloton will have to chase briefly. With an eight woman squad to draw on, the Netherlands can throw a few different looks at the peloton.

The Netherlands’ Demi Vollering climbs Norwood Edge.
The Netherlands’ Demi Vollering climbs Norwood Edge. Photograph: Tim Goode/PA


130km to go. We already have a bit of a split in the peloton on Norwood Edge as the Dutch pace us up the hill. It is only a two kilometre climb but it is enough to do some damage and we have already whittled down the front group to around 40 riders.

Lizzie Deignan climbs Norwood Edge.
Lizzie Deignan climbs Norwood Edge. Photograph: Tim Goode/PA


135km to go. We have had about 14 kilometres since the flag dropped in Bradford and we will soon be heading up the course’s two climbs, Norwood Edge and the Lofthouse. They are unlikely to be decisive, with the real action to unfold on circuits around Harrogate. Deignan is well set but there was a brief scare for teammate Lizzy Banks, with a little technical issue, but she got back on.

The peloton heads towards Norwood Edge.
The peloton heads towards Norwood Edge. Photograph: Tim Goode/PA



The Cycling World Championships may be in Yorkshire but all roads for the women’s title go through the Netherlands. Bad news for home fans and Lizzie Deignan with her hopes of regaining the crown she won in 2015 appearing slim. Not only is Deignan battling one of the deepest Dutch squads ever assembled but also a host of former Boels-Dolmans teammates.

A collective palmarès that includes five road and two time trial world titles, two road Olympic golds, 40 stage and four overall wins at the Giro Rosa as well as a long list of victories in the cycling calendar’s one-day classics means it would be a shock to see no shades of orange stood on top of the podium come the end of the race.

Defending champion Anna van der Breggen is backed up by Marianne Vos, with Annemiek van Vleuten, the 2017 world road champion Chantal Blaak and Amy Pieters also on the roster the best chance for any challenger might be for the Dutch to beat themselves.

Deignan returned to the road in April after after giving birth to her daughter Orla last year and knows she only has an outside chance on her home turf. A win at the Women’s Tour in June is her best result since coming back but if she were to take advantage of home comforts again that would represent another level entirely. “To win here would be elation rather than relief,” she told the BBC ahead of the race, referencing her favourite status in 2015. Perhaps reduced pressure could be just the ticket.


Stuart Goodwin (now) and Tom Bassam (earlier)

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