• Finnish star Lotta Lepisto celebrates at the finish! (Getty Images)
Lotta Lepisto (Cervelo-Bigla) took out the Crescent Vårgårda road race, sprinting to the win after a tough 141 kilometre race in Sweden.
By
Cycling Central

13 Aug - 10:03 PM  UPDATED 14 Aug - 7:42 AM

A strong leadout from Sunweb led the way for their chosen sprinter Leah Kirchmann, but became disjointed, with the leadout rider leaving Kirchmann behind. Over the top went the current European champion Marianne Vos (WM3 Energie), but it proved to be far too early as Lepisto simply slipped into her wheel to later emerge and win the sprint handily by a few lengths. 

"I'm really happy right now, almost crying more or less," said Lepisto after the race. "I started everything here in Sweden ten years ago with the national team."

"There was Sunweb and there was Marianne Vos, she opened up really early and I caught her wheel and thought 'let's have a go, let's go along', and I could pass the finish line first." 

The early move of the day was initiated by Grace Brown (High5 Australian Womens Development Team).

"My first World Tour race far exceeded my expectations," Brown said in a Cycling Australia statement.

"I'm so happy to have played a part in setting up the race and go head to head with some of the top names in women's cycling."

"The plan for the team today was to be on the front foot, be the first to attack, and get me into an early break. This race will give me a lot of confidence going forward."

Aussies to light it up in Vargarda
Gravel roads, long courses and hard racing are the ingredients for what should be an eye-opening experience for the Australian underdogs of the High5 Australian Women's Development Team as they face up against World Tour opposition at the Crescent Vargarda Race.

Brown was quickly joined by two others, then a further eight riders, including Australian Amanda Spratt (Orica-Scott). With almost all of the major teams represented, there was little reason to chase the move, but the peloton decided to keep the 11-strong group close.

The race began with five short laps, with a long lap then followed by four short laps, all around the town of Vårgårda. The short laps were tackled at a slow pace, which then ramped up for the 'long' lap, which included four gravel sections and a good amount of climbing.

The break pushed its advantage out to two minutes 40 seconds, but that's as far away as they would get, before being reeled back in, with FDJ Nouvelle Aquitane doing most of the work. 

By the start of the final 'small' laps and just 44 kilometres to go, the peloton had the break in sight, prompting the stronger riders from the group to attack and drop the weaker members. Spratt started the move and was joined by Chantal Blaak (Boels-Dolmans), Giorgia Bronzini (Wiggle-High5), Sabrina Stultiens (Sunweb) and Alexis Ryan (Canyon-SRAM) who looked to stretch the gap back out.

They did so succesfully for a while, until the pace was pushed hard by the peloton on a small climb, catching the group with ease and thinning down the main bunch drastically. 

The final few laps were a war of attrition, with almost a constant stream of attacks from the front of the race being caught and shut down. Noone was able to break the stranglehold of the peloton for long however and it was clear in the final kilometres that the race would come down to a sprint.