Elena Cecchini yesterday finished tenth in the opening race of the UCI Women’s WorldTour, Strade Bianche. The Italian road champion was in the front group of riders battling for the win in a spectacular race from start to finish. Elisa Longo Borghini (WHT) won from Kasia Niewiadoma (WM3) with Cecchini one minute behind in tenth.
The rain-soaked Strade Bianche provided spectators watching roadside and fans globally viewing the final hour live with an exciting race. The longest breakaway was during the middle of the race, when a trio of riders had an advantage of two minutes before being reeled in on the sixth of eight sectors of gravel.
On the penultimate gravel sector an elite group of riders formed with Elena Cecchini representing CANYON/SRAM Racing. Lucinda Brand attacked in the final kilometres into Siena but was chased down and overtaken in the final 500m on the climb to Piazza del Campo.
Afterwards Cecchini said “It was a hard race and it was quite nervous in the peloton from the beginning. As a team we raced well together and I had their full support. I was just not strong enough to follow Longo Borghini in the final climb when they attacked. Maybe I need to be smarter in the final and try to chase them back, but now I just have to look forward to another chance next week.”
Cecchini was supported by her team-mates including Pauline Ferrand-Prévot who had her first race in CANYON//SRAM colours. “For me it was really exciting and I’m also happy because I was good for 100km of the race. After this I missed a bit of speed and racing in my legs. I’m really happy with our group and the way we were racing together,” said Ferrand-Prévot.
Tiffany Cromwell after the race said the team was getting close to the victory it is aiming for. “I think it was a good race as a team. I was happy personally with my performance. I went in to give support to my team-mates and to fight hard for them. Every race we’re taking confidence and I can feel that as a group it’s coming together well.”
Director sportif Barry Austin agreed with Cromwell, “We obviously would have liked to walk away with a win, but as a team we set out certain goals in the race in terms of unity and being there for one another when it matters. We achieved many of these and have added several pages to this important chapter in our book of being a great team. We're looking forward to building on that.”
The second race of the Women’s WorldTour will be at Ronde van Drenthe in the Netherlands on Saturday 11 March.