Dani Rowe clocked the best British finish in a gruelling women’s road race at the UCI Road World Championships in Austria as Olympic champion Anna Van Der Breggen powered to glory.
The Olympic track champion crossed the line 26th in a packed and talented field in Innsbruck, with Sophie Wright 41st and Hannah Barnes four places further back. Danielle Christmas finished 64th.
But it was a day for Dutch delight, the Netherlands finishing with four riders inside the top ten, spearheaded superbly by the fearsome Van Der Breggen, who sped home in 4:11.04.
Australia’s Amanda Spratt was her nearest challenger, three minutes 42 seconds behind.
Tatiana Guderzo kicked on to complete the podium places, with the experienced Italian now boasting gold, silver and bronze World Championship medals.
Rowe revealed it was a far from straightforward race for her, on an already demanding and taxing course measured at 156.2km.
“It was absolutely brutal,” said the London 2012 team pursuit Olympic champion, “I had a lot of bad luck, I got caught in a crash just before the steep climb, so I had to chase back on.
“I measured my effort, got back up and didn’t panic, so that was good. I got back on just before the circuit.
“And I know I’m not the best climber so I had to measure my effort over the 20 minutes, so I was amazed I was still so far up the field with still a lap to go.
“But then on the second climb, the chain got stuck in the 11th gear. Then I had a bike change with a lap to go – I just gave it all I had.
“To be honest, I wouldn’t have been there anyway, I’m not a mountain goat – I felt really good, so it was a shame I couldn’t get the best result possible, but I’m really proud with how I rode and it’s always great to represent GB in the World Championships.
“The Dutch team are incredible and hats off to Anna – I think the best rider won – she was incredible and it’s amazing to see.”
Fellow Brit Barnes was caught up in the crash also involving Rowe, and admitted that meant the riders further back the field were always playing catch-up.
“It felt like a human yoyo,” said the 25-year-old. “I kept getting dropped and getting back on again.
“After that crash we were always on the back foot, but it’s a good atmosphere out there, when you’re on the climb, there’s a lot of people cheering you on, which is really nice.
“Anna has had a great year, she’s a deserving winner and a great champion, that’s for sure.”