A successful weekend in Sweden
In a repeat of last year, the Cervélo Bigla Pro Cycling Team finished on the podium in both the team time trial and road race in Crescent Vårgårda this past weekend.
Racing started on Friday evening with a 42.5 kilometre team time trial. The team finished second in the event last year and was keen to impress again. Clara Koppenburg and Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig was new to the line up this year.
Cervélo Bigla was the sixth last team to start from the 21 teams on the start list. There were early signs that it might be another good run when the team set the fastest time at the first time check. The next indicator was after 31.9 kilometres and, like the previous check point, the team set the benchmark again.
When the team crossed the finish line, it had beaten the previous best time by over 2 minutes. The time put Cervélo Bigla in the hot seat, a place it would stay until the final team finished, world champions Boels Dolmans winning by 13 seconds.
Lotta Lepistö said the result was due to an intense week of preparation. “We knew what to expect from last year but we had some changes in the line up so we had to adapt. The staff were really motivated and did an incredible job to support us.” She said she was also happy for Koppenburg who got to step onto the WorldTour podium for the first time in her career.
Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio said, “The TTT is a special event and reflects our character as a team and shows that we are such a strong unit.”
The riders had one day to recover before turning their attention to the road race on Sunday. The 140-kilometre race featured gravel sections on certain parts of the lapped course. Last year, a breakaway made it to the finish with Lepistö sprinting to second from the escape.
A dangerous breakaway again appeared this year. 11 riders attacked and gained an advantage of over two minutes. German champion Lisa Klein represented the team in the move. With some of the teams not happy with the composition of the break, the chase started from behind. Eventually, the move was brought back which opened the door for an aggressive final. Cervélo Bigla moved to the front to control the race for Lepistö.
Relentless attacks took place as teams did not fancy their chances in a bunch sprint. Only with 2 kilometres to go did it seem like the race would end in a sprint. Lepistö was well positioned in the final corner and proved the fastest. The victory is her sixth of the season, the third World Tour ranked win in 2017.
Asked if there is a particular pressure placed on a sprinter to win after a team sacrifices for one leader, Lepisto said she was incredibly focussed, especially in the last 10 kilometres to deliver a good result. "The girls covered every single move and I didn’t have much to do, I could just rest for the final. It’s amazing how good the team is right now."