UCI Gravel World Championships: Kasia Niewiadoma wins elite women's title with solo attack

Polish rider went away in final 25km to beat Silvia Persico and Demi Vollering in Veneto

Clock13:22, Saturday 7th October 2023
Kasia Niewiadoma soloed to victory in the women's Gravel World Championships

© Sprint Cycling Agency

Kasia Niewiadoma soloed to victory in the women's Gravel World Championships

Poland’s Kasia Niewiadoma attacked solo to win the UCI Gravel World Championships and claim the first rainbow jersey of her career in Veneto, Italy.

In a race that had been dominated by road racers, who pulled out an elite selection of riders early on in proceedings, Niewiadoma eventually managed to crack the control of the Italian and Dutch squads to go solo in the final 25km, and hold onto her lead all the way to the finish.

Sprinting it out after trying to chase Niewiadoma down, Silvia Persico (Italy) took the silver medal, whilst Demi Vollering (Netherlands) took third, the pair finishing 32 seconds adrift of the winner.

Two more Dutch riders in Yara Kastelijn and Lorena Wiebes completed the top five as the strong road nations well and truly took control on the gravel.

Big road names the stars of the show in Veneto

On the first part of the 140km Veneto course, a lead group of around 25 riders was quickly carved out, with the Italian team leading things at the front, closely shadowed by the Dutch, as the road riders and tactics prevailed. Soraya Paladin, Elena Cecchini, Silvia Persico and Gaia Realini led the race across the finish line for the first time, taking control in their home event.

Heading into the first of two local laps, the lead group was confirmed as 23 riders, with the four Italians joined by seven riders from the Netherlands, including Demi Vollering and Lorena Wiebes, plus the likes of Niewiadoma, Tiffany Cromwell (Australia) and Heidi Franz (USA). The biggest gravel specialist name to get into the lead group was Argentina’s Sofia Gomez Villafañe.

At the next checkpoint, with 64km completed and heading into the final 80km of racing, gaps were starting form in the front group as Italy continued setting a difficult pace. Niewiadoma, Vollering and Wiebes were sticking close to the Italians as 23 became 13, with riders such as Riejanne Markus (Netherlands) and Silvia Persico dropped. Gomez Villafañe and Cromwell were holding on in the front group, but hanging at the back

By the time the race passed the finish line for the second time, Persico had made it back to the front of the race as nine riders attempted to push on. Wiebes, Vollering, Realini, Persico and Niewiadoma were joined by Simone Boilard (Canada), Lauren Stephens (USA), Yara Kastelijn (Netherlands) and Niamh Fisher-Black (New Zealand), and pulled out a minute’s advantage over the closest riders.

However, their lead didn’t last long, and despite the gap, things soon regrouped again, with Cromwell finding her way back into the front group, alongside the likes of Markus, Cecchini, and Emma Norsgaard (Denmark) as the leaders swelled to 15 riders once again with 100km completed.

Heading towards the finale, the big attacks began. With 25km to go, Kasia Niewiadoma attacked and went solo, pulling out five-second lead ahead of Persico and Vollering, whilst Wiebes, Kastelijn, Fisher-Black and Boilard sat another 25 seconds down. Kastelijn made the junction to the chasing duo, but they were losing time on Niewiadoma, who had 15 seconds with 15km to go, and only grew as she approached the finish. Despite the pair of Dutch riders in the chase, they just couldn’t close down the charging Pole, who went into the final few kilometres with more than 40 seconds’ advantage.

Approaching the finish, Niewiadoma’s win was all but assured, with victory confirmed as the crossed the line in Veneto, officially claiming her first individual rainbow jersey after a strong performance. After her chasing efforts, Kastelijn was dropped from the second group, so it was a sprint between Persico and Vollering for second and third, with the Italian winning the head-to-head to claim silver, coming in 32 seconds down on Niewiadoma. Kastelijn took fourth, whilst European champion Wiebes claimed fifth.

The first more gravel-oriented rider to finish was Cromwell, in tenth, finishing almost seven minutes down after the race blew up quite significantly after a long day of racing in Italy.

Race Results

1

pl flag

NIEWIADOMA Katarzyna

CANYON//SRAM Racing

4H 49' 44"

2

it flag

PERSICO Silvia

UAE Team ADQ

+ 33"

3

nl flag

VOLLERING Demi

Team SD Worx

"

4

nl flag

KASTELIJN Yara

Fenix-Deceuninck

+ 1' 29"

5

nl flag

WIEBES Lorena

Team SD Worx

+ 1' 33"

6

us flag

STEPHENS Lauren

EF Education-TIBCO-SVB

+ 4' 02"

7

ca flag

BOILARD Simone

St Michel-Mavic-Auber 93

+ 5' 19"

8

nz flag

FISHER-BLACK Niamh

Team SD Worx

+ 5' 23"

9

it flag

REALINI Gaia

Lidl-Trek

+ 6' 03"

10

au flag

CROMWELL Tiffany

CANYON//SRAM Racing

+ 6' 47"

Provided by FirstCycling

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