3rd UCI Road World Championship gold for Italy after Elisa Balsamo's win
Saturday 25 September 2021
After a nerve-racking finale, it was Italy's Elisa Balsamo who clinched gold. She won after a thrilling sprint against former world champion Marianne Vos. Securing a third world title for Italy at this UCI Road World Championships. Polish rider Niewiadoma took bronze.
A circuit spanning 157.7 km, with the Leuven city loop being ridden four times, and the Flandrien Loop once, awaited the women during their road race. The starting shot sounded on the Grote Markt in Antwerp, after which the peloton set off towards Leuven. All eyes were on the strong block of riders from the Netherlands. With the likes of Van Vleuten, Van der Breggen, Vos and Van Dijk, they were the favourites for gold today. Home rider Kopecky, the Italian ladies Balsamo and Longo Borghini, and Polish rider Niewiadoma were the challengers on duty.
The race started slowly, but after a few attempts to pull away, it was Michaela Drummond from New Zealand who went solo during the first few kilometres on the city loop in Leuven. She quickly built up a lead of more than 45 seconds, but the first passage on the steep Smeysberg brought her dreams to an end.
After Vollering had to dismount on Moskesstraat due to problems with her bike and later had to change bikes, the peloton gradually moved towards Bekestraat and Smeysberg for the second time. There, South Africa's Moolman-Pasio tried to split up the peloton, but could not break away. The local loop in Leuven would be decisive. The Netherlands attacked time after time, aiming to turn it into a gruelling battle.
But every attack by the Netherlands was countered by the Italians. So it was no surprise that it came down to a one-on-one at the finish line. Elisa Balsamo versus Marianne Vos. It was the young Italian who pulled the win out of the bag. Katarzyna Niewiadoma won the sprint behind them and took bronze for Poland.