• It came down to the wire in the sprint finish, with Bujak (left) winning (Velofocus)Source: Velofocus
Saturday’s penultimate round of the Women’s WorldTour brought a surprise result with Eugenia Bujak (BTC-Ljubljana ) taking victory ahead of some more fancied riders at the GP de Plouay Bretagne.
By
Cycling Central

28 Aug 2016 - 11:43 AM 

The 27-year-old had been dropped on the final climb of the day, the Côte de Ty Marrec, just four kilometres from the finish. Cooperating with seven other riders, including former world champion Marianne Vos, she made contact with six leaders as they passed under the flamme rouge before launching her sprint.

She proved faster than the rest, just edging the victory ahead of Elena Cecchini (Canyon-SRAM) and Joelle Numainville (Cervelo-Bigla.)

As it happened

The GP Plouay offers a different style of racing, closer to the world championships style of racing as the course is a 26.9 kilometre loop. The peloton would race the course four times before a condensed fifth lap of 13.9 kilometres, which cut out the padding between the two major climbs of the course, the Cote du Lezot and the Cote de Ty Marrec.

On the first of four laps of the hilly 26.9km course there was an early attack by Špela Kern (BTC-Ljubljana) attacked, building a lead of 30 seconds. By the end of the second lap, however, she was caught by a peloton led by the bigger teams.

The action started heating up in the third lap with an attack by Alena Amialiusik (Canyon-SRAM) splitting the peloton and a fierce tempo set by Armitstead, working as a super-domestique, further whittling down the field.
Armitstead’s pace would eventually leave only 22 riders in the lead. Rabo-Liv’s Lucinda Brand broke clear on the final long lap, but it was Armitstead and her Boels-Dolmans team, working with Lotto-Soudal who brought her back.

A final lap solo effort by Leah Kirchmann (Liv-Plantur) was neutralised largely due to the efforts of Katarzyna Niewiadoma and Marianne Vos (both Rabo-Liv), with a group of 15 riders reaching the foot of the last climb.

The final ascent of the Ty Marrec saw an attack of six riders go clear and four kilometres from the finish it looked as if a six-up sprint between World Tour leader Megan Guarnier (Boels-Dolmans), Elisa Longo Borghini (Wiggle High5), Niewiadoma, Katrin Garfoot (ORICA-AIS) and Jöelle Numainville (Cervélo-Bigla) would decide the winner.

As the riders approached the flamme rouge, the chasing group, including Eugenia Bujak, Marianne Vos, Elena Cecchini and Leah Kirchmann, dragged their way back to the leaders. Fourteen riders contested the sprint finish with Eugenia Bujak delivering the win for her Slovenian BTC-Ljubljana.

Bujak has been in good form this year, with particularly good legs in the recent Route de France, where she took two stage wins enroute to third overall on the general classification.

Six minutes later, Armitstead, Harris and Pawlowska crossed the finish line with their attention on Stevens. They pointed at the American, clapped and smiled big as they crossed the finish line side-by-side. Stevens is set to retire at the end of the season, and Saturday’s race in Plouay was her final road race with the team.

“I’m incredibly grateful to end my road racing career alongside these amazing women,” said Stevens. “I didn’t expect that sort of gesture at the finish, especially with the team time trial in Qatar still to come, but it’s definitely another happy memory to add to the collection.”

For the Australians present in the race, Amanda Spratt (Orica-BikeExchange) put in a strong performance, whilst Katrin Garfoot shrugged off the illness which had plagued her Olympics campaign to be part of the elite group of six which surged clear on the final climb, eventually sprinting to eighth at the finish.

  

The final event of the Women’s WorldTour, the Madrid Challenge by la Vuelta takes place on September 11. It follows the same format as La Course by Le Tour, a city centre race on the final circuit of a Grand Tour, this time in Madrid and is likely to end in a sprint finish.