Dutch rider Annemiek Van Vleuten launched a solo attack with 104km remaining of the 149.4km race, with defending champion, Dutch teammate, Anna van der Breggen claiming the silver medal, whilst Australian Amanda Spratt came in third.
The Dutch team were active from the start, with Demi Vollering launching an attack to split the field before Van Vleuten attacked on the Lofthouses climb with just over 104km to go. She quickly gained 27 seconds which then increased to 44 seconds as a selection of eight riders looked to try to bring Van Vleuten back. Van der Breggen, Spratt, Longo Borghini from Italy, GB’s Lizzie Deignan and recently crowned World Time Trial Champion Chloe Dygert were all in the group.
After five kilometres on her own, Van Vleuten had increased her lead to over a minute and it would hover around the 50 seconds mark until the race reached Ripon with around 70km still to go, where it dipped to 43 seconds as Deignan and then Dygert launched attacks to try to bring her back. But with van der Breggen closing every attempt down, it became increasingly obvious that whilst van der Breggen was still in the group, any attempts to bring van Vleuten back would be in vain.
By 50km to go, the impetus had gone out of the chase group and van Vleuten’s lead had extended to over one and a half minutes. Deignan and Longo Borghini attempted to split the group but to no avail with Dygert also trying to split it. It was at this point that Koppenburg from Germany was dropped. Deignan looked totally frustrated as move after move was shut down.
By the time van Vleuten reached Harrogate with 40km to go, the win seemed to be hers for the taking as the gap reached 2 minutes 37 seconds back to the chasers.
Dygert saw her chance as they reached Harrogate, and with 38.8km still to go, she launched an attack that would put paid to Deignan’s medal hopes as she was unable to get back up to the chasers. The group now became four as Dygert continued to press on and distance Deignan.
With the gap around 2 minutes 12 seconds to van Vleuten, Dygert attacked the chasers again and this time van der Breggen was unable to bring it back, with Dygert going clear. Her gap would extend to a maximum of 29 seconds with 18km to go, at which point Spratt attacked and Longo Borghini was distanced.
By 16km to go, it seemed like the distance was starting to affect Dygert (whose longest race before today was 119km) and as she entered Parliament Street and the finish for the penultimate time, Spratt and van der Breggen were closing the gap, and they would then catch Dygert with 12.7km to go.
Dygert’s gutsy ride was not to end with a podium as van der Breggen attacked as the duo caught Dygert and Dygert was left behind by van der Breggen and Spratt. With 4.7km still to go, van der Breggen attacked Spratt and got a gap, which would be sufficient for her to claim second spot.
By now, Van Vleuten’s victory was secured and she powered up the finishing straight to become the World Champion, with van der Breggen 2 minutes 15 seconds behind, and Spratt a further 13 seconds in arrears. Dygert finished a fantastic fourth, 3 minutes 24 seconds behind van Vleuten, Longo Borghini finished in fifth a further 1 minute 21 seconds down, with Marianne Vos leading in the peloton at 5 minutes 20 seconds, which included Deignan and Anna Henderson who finished 22nd.
But the day belonged to Annemiek Van Vleuten, whose incredibly courageous ride has deservedly secured her place in the history books.