Olympic champion Anna van der Breggen won the world championships road race by the largest margin in 29 years, completing a Dutch sweep of the elite world titles for a second straight year.
Van der Breggen, 28, notched her first world title following four silver medals between the road race and time trial. She distanced the rest of a leading group of six on the penultimate climb with about 25 miles left and cruised to win by 3 minutes, 42 seconds over Australian Amanda Spratt.
Only legendary Jeannie Longo of France had a greater winning margin, according to Procyclingstats.com. Longo won the fourth of her five world road race titles in 1989 by 4:05.
“I didn’t know the time, I didn’t know anything, so I kept going until the finish line,” van der Breggen said. “I think, until the finish line, I only believed it was possible.”
Italian Tatiana Guderzo took bronze, a further 1:44 behind. The top American was Ruth Winder in 10th.
Van der Breggen covered the 96 miles in 4:11:04. Full results are here.
Van der Breggen joined legends in pairing an Olympic road race title with a world championship in the discipline — Dutchwomen Leontein van Moorsel and Marianne Vos (whom van der Breggen formerly rode for as a support rider), Longo and Brit Nicole Cooke. Van Moorsel is the only one to win all four golds — Olympic and worlds road race and time trial.
Saturday’s rout was vastly different from the Rio Games, when van der Breggen and two others surged past American Mara Abbott with 500 meters left. The Dutchwoman crossed the finish line in the same time as the silver and bronze medalists.
On Tuesday, van der Breggen took her third silver medal in four years in the time trial, 28 seconds slower than countrywoman Annemiek van Vleuten in a Dutch podium sweep with Ellen van Dijk.
It’s been quite a few years for van der Breggen, who took a break from cycling during her junior career when she was selected for a nursing internship in Ghana.
Worlds conclude with the men’s road race Sunday on Olympic Channel: Home of Team USA and NBC Sports Gold. A full broadcast schedule is here.
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