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Injured van Vleuten wins second World title, Canada’s Boilard fourth in U23 category

Alison Jackson in top-20

Photo by: Sirotti

Even with an injured elbow, Annemiek van Vleuten concluded her 2022 season by earning her second elite women’s rainbow jersey Saturday at Wollongong 2022 in New South Wales, Australia. The Dutch have won seven of the last 11 elite women’s championships with four riders. Canadian Simone Boilard was fourth in the U23 category, while Alison Jackson cracked the elite top 20 with 18th.

You can watch the Wollongong 2022 UCI Road World Championships at FloBikes.

The Course

The elite and U23 women started north of Wollongong in Helensburg and after 27.5 km entered a 34-km loop with the mighty Mount Keira, an 8-km long climb that looms over Wollongong. Then there were six laps of the 17-km city circuit, each containing the 1.1-km, 8.6 percent Mount Pleasant climb. The total was 164.5 km, making the longest-ever women’s Worlds route.

The Canadian contingent was Alison Jackson, Leah Kirchmann, Olivia Baril and U23s Simone Boilard and Magdeleine Vallieres. Thirty-six of the women were U23.

How would Annemiek van Vleuten perform with a broken elbow? Her teammate Demi Vollering did not started because of a COVID-19 positive.

After a scenic start along the South Pacific coast into a headwind, several breakaway attempts failed before a French rider kicked clear and two U23 riders lit out after her.

Simone Boilard at the front after the start in Helensburgh.

Mount Keira

The French rider, Gladys Verhulst, eluded the peloton, which was whittled down by the grades, despite a lack of attacks or concerted pace-making.

Olivia Baril on Mount Keira.

The descent of Keira brought the race back together. It was noticeably wetter on the other side once the race entered Lap 1 of the Mount Pleasant circuit. A trio containing Junior double winner Zoe Backstedt’s sister Elynor shook free.

Spain and Italy helped to sew things up in Lap 3, which elicited a Czech to go solo. Kirchmann, in her last Worlds, toiled at the pointy end of the peloton for Canada. More moves flared off the front as the rain came down and the race headed into the penultimate lap.

A strong group containing Katarzyna Niewiadoma and Elisa Longo Borghini powered away on Mount Pleasant and van Vleuten was in the chasing group with teammates Marianne Vos and Ellen van Dijk. On the bell lap this chase, also containing Boilard and Jackson, grew.

It was an acceleration by van Vleuten inside the final kilometre that saw the chase reach the Niewiadoma-Borghini group. The Dutch rider then sailed through everyone and won by a second.

A Kiwi, Niamh Fisher-Black, took the U23 rainbow jersey.

Wollongong 2022 concludes on Sunday with the elite men’s road race.

Wollongong 2022 Elite Women’s Road Race

Gold) Annemiek van Vleuten (The Netherlands) 4:24:25
Silver) Lotte Kopecky (Belgium) +0:01
Bronze) Silvia Persico (Italy) s.t.
18) Alison Jackson (Canada) +0:13
37) Olivia Baril (Canada) +4:57
46) Leah Kirchmann (Canada) +7:37

Wollongong 2022 U23 Women’s Road Race
Gold) Niamh Fisher-Black (New Zealand) 4:24:26
Silver) Pfeiffer Georgi (Great Britain) +0:12
Bronze) Ricarda Bauernfeind (Germany) s.t.
4) Simone Boilard (Canada) s.t.