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Sprinter Wild powers to second Classique crown

Kirsten Wild made history in central London on Saturday, 28 July, as she became the first woman to win the Prudential RideLondon Classique for a second time when she skipped away from a late crash and powered past her rivals to take the world’s richest one-day prize in a frantic sprint down The Mall.

The Dutch sprint ace was tipped to win by Britain’s Dani Rowe yesterday and it was Rowe’s WaowDeals teammate Marianne Vos who almost upset Wild’s dreams of the double with a late attack on the outside as they hurtled away from Admiralty Arch towards the Finish Line.

But Wild had been set up superbly by her Wiggle High5 teammates and she responded with an unstoppable burst that took her across the line with half a length to spare.

“It feels so good,” said the grinning winner afterwards. “This is a big race and I couldn’t be happier to win again.

“I’m so proud of my team and the way they rode together today. It was great teamwork that won it for me.”

When the 35-year-old first won the title two years ago, she escaped from a poor position to snatch victory against the odds. This year she timed it to perfection as a late crash ended the hopes of defending champion Coryn Rivera.

Led out by Lisa Brennauer, Wild bounced off the wheel of Valcar PBM’s Elisa Balsamo and chased down Vos to regain the Classique crown and claim the winner’s 25,000 Euros prize.

“Actually, I didn’t feel so good during the race,” she said. “My legs were a bit tired but my team put me in a good place at the right time and I had to repay them for that.

“Lisa said to me, ‘Don’t worry, stick with me and I’ll get you there.’ Then at the last roundabout I saw I was in a good position and thought I had a chance.

“At the end I saw Marianne coming on the outside and I thought this is good, I can take her slipstream.

“Winning on The Mall is perfect. It’s such a special place. All the sprinters were here today so I feel really proud to have won again.”

Vos clinched the London Olympic title in pouring rain on these roads in 2012 but had to settle for second today behind her fellow Dutchwoman.

“It’s always special to be back here where the Olympic Games were held,” said Vos. “I have good memories of this finish line.

“I saw a gap opening up today with 200 metres to go. But I was too far back. I saw Wild on my right-hand side and it was up to the two of us. She was just faster.”

Balsamo held on for third ahead of Chloe Hosking, a huge boost for the 20-year-old Italian.

“It’s a big honour to be on the podium with Kirsten and Marianne,” said Balsamo. “It’s my first time racing in London and my first podium in a WorldTour race so it’s wonderful.”

Vos may have been pipped on the line but there was one victory on the day for WaowDeals as Rowe lived up to her promise by taking the Continental Tyres Sprints title, pocketing the 3,000 Euros prize by a point from Amy Pieters of Boels Dolmans. 

“It was always the plan for me to go for the intermediate sprints and Marianne to go for the win, so it was almost perfect from a team point of view,” said Rowe. “I’ve never really mixed it up in the sprints before and I wouldn’t have been able to do it without the team. They were incredible.

“It was very windy so it was a case of trying to stay near the front at the right times and conserve energy the rest of the time. There was a massive headwind coming down The Mall to the Finish.”

Those gusty winds hardly seemed to slow the peloton, however, as 108 tightly packed riders set off at a full pelt on the twisting course around St James’s Park, Constitution Hill and Trafalgar Square for the first of the dozen 5.4km laps.

Most of the big names buried themselves in the pack as they pedalled hard against the wind up The Mall and along the edge of Green Park.

Position means everything on this technical course and it was Pieters who emerged at the end of lap three to snaffle the first five sprint points ahead of Rowe.

The WaowDeals crew led out superbly towards the second sprint where Rowe edged out Lisa Kirchmann on the line ahead of Hoskins and Pieters.

Rowe clearly had her eyes on the prize and her green-shirted train brought the Briton to the head of the race again for sprint three only for Pieters to slip past on the outside.

It wasn’t enough for the Boels Dolmans rider, though, as Rowe’s second place sealed the deal.

From now on it was all about the finish, and slowly and surely Wiggle High5 brought Wild to the fore behind the yellow and black line of Mitchelton-SCOTT riders who were controlling the front of the race.

As they swung round Trafalgar Square for the last time, a large crash left riders in a heap on the tarmac and put paid to Rivera’s chances. By then, though, Wild was away and clear, screaming under Admiralty Arch before pouncing on Vos’s move to clinch the win.

With three world track titles and four on the roads this year, no one was going to beat the flying Dutchwoman on her favourite course.

“Winning three indoor titles at home this year was fantastic and winning this too just makes it perfect,” said Wild.

“I love this event because I just love sprinting and this is mostly a sprinters’ race. It’s a great one for me. I know I can be fast but this one is extra fast.”

There was some extra fast racing in the Brompton World Championship Final too as Cam Gutteridge won the men’s race with a desperate finish ahead of last year’s runner up Vojtech Blazejovsky, while former Olympic track cycling medallist Emma Pooley delighted the crowds by winning the women’s race despite struggling to unfold her bike at the start.

“I did struggle at the start with the bike build,” said the former world time trial champion. “But the race was brilliant fun.

“When I was a pro, this kind of race would have been my worst nightmare, because it’s flat, it’s cornered, it’s windy. I would have been at the back, scared the whole time.

“Somehow on the Brompton it’s a bit different. I’d love to come back.”

The Prudential RideLondon Handcycle Grand Prix brought the day to an end with Rafal Wilk taking his third straight victory in the men’s event and Liz McTernan winning the women’s race.

Earlier in the day, the Prudential RideLondon FreeCycle came to a spectacular conclusion when Rick Koekoek smashed the bunny hop gap world record at Andrei Burton’s Urban Trials Championship course in the Green Park Festival Zone.

Koekoek leapt 4.40 metres to add 34 centimetres to the previous official Guinness World Record.

“That was breathtaking even for me to see,” said Burton. “What a great way to end day one.”

“It was scary,” agreed Koekoek. “But it was good fun. Would I do it again? Hell yeah.”

Burton’s urban trials riders return to Green Park on Sunday for their finals and another world record attempt or two, while the Prudential RideLondon-Surrey 100 sets out from Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park at 05:45 followed by the Prudential RideLondon-Surrey Classic men’s race which starts at Horse Guards Parade at 13:40.