Women’s Elite Road Race Saturday 26th September 12:35GMT – you can watch the race on the BBC via the red button or via the BBC iPlay or BBC Sport website. IF you care for sport, certainly women’s cycling, please watch as much content of it as you can, only this way will the future of the sport start to become safer.
This Saturday we will see the Elite Women racing for the glory of wearing the rainbow bands in the professional peloton for a year.
Defending Champion Annemiek van Vleuten fractured her wrist just five days ago in the Giro Rosa and after having surgery on her wrist, van Vleuten has been on a training ride and reported no pain and has said that “It’s not a complicated break. I look at it day by day and do everything I can to recover optimally. You never know.” telling NOS.nl. So will we see something akin to the long range effort she put in to secure the bands in Harrogate just 12 months ago?
Someone who will be willing to claim the bands back will be Lizzie Diegnan, after returning from maternity leave she’s in somewhat the best form of her career, winning the GP de Plouay and then La Course just a few days later the hilly course of Imola, where the Worlds have been moved to from Aige, Switzerland due to COVID-19, has been described as “perfect for her” by team mate Lizzy Banks. Banks herself is riding some of the best form of her career, finishing second to Diegnan at the GP de Plouay and winning Stage 4 of the Giro Rosa it’s looking good if your name is Elizabeth.
“I’m excited about the upcoming UCI World Championships in Imola and I’m really grateful to the organisers for giving us the chance to actually have a World Championships this year and making it happen.” Banks told Pusher of Pedals.
“I think it’s going to be really quite open this year. Of course the Dutch are always really strong but we’ve seen here in the Giro that the British riders are strong at the moment – Hannah Barnes and Lizzie Deignan are riding really well and so it’s really exciting that we’re going to take a strong team in to this championships too. I think it’s really open and I think the tough parcour is good for us as a team and I am looking forward to it.”
The women’s road race is 144km, ascending over 2,750m, and starts and finishes at the Imola motor racing circuit. A challenging and hilly course will undoubtably serve up a fantastic days racing, following the theme we’ve seen this year in Women’s cycling which has been some of the best races of the year.
But what about former World Champion Lizzie Deignan? Having crashed out of the European Continental Championships Road Race with the honours there going to van Vleuten, Deignan is no less determined than ever to get the bands back.
“I’m feeling really good and really excited about the Imola World Championships this weekend.” Diegnan told Pusher of Pedals.
“I haven’t been able to see the course as yet. Normally in a World Championships we can see the junior and U23 races too and we can get a bit of a feel of how the races will go. We don’t have that this year as it’s just the elite men and the elite women racing so I’m going in to the race a bit blind but my legs are good, my team is good and so we have a nice chance I think.”
Admitting to Pusher of Pedals that Deignan was “still unsure of my chances” a case of playing it down could work in Deignan’s favour. Her rivals will know the power she holds in her legs and following up the results she’s achieved this year, it would be foolish to discount Deignan from this race.
Racing alongside both Deignan and Banks are, Anna Shackley, Anna Henderson, Hannah Barnes and Alice Barnes.