World champion's victory hands her the overall lead

Annemiek van Vleuten bagged her second win from two outings in the rainbow skinsuit, winning stage two of Emakumeen Bira in the Basque Country on Sunday. The 35-year-old was nine seconds behind Dutch compatriot Anna van der Breggen (Boels-Dolmans) at the intermediate split after 13 of the 26.6km course, but recovered to beat the Olympic champion by 14 seconds.

Former word time trial champion Lisa Brennauer (Wiggle-High5) finished third, 44 seconds behind.

Time trials are few and far between in women’s cycling and this was only the second time the Dutch woman had raced since winning the title last September. With that victory she now has a 100% strike rate in the discipline.

How it happened

Though there were two short steep climbs on the 26.6km test, the rest of the course was flat and one for the pure testers. Fifth down the start ramp in the small Basque town of Agurain was former German time trial champion Mieke Kröger (Virtu), who set the early target of 35.32.

However, having started early in the day after an inopportune puncture ruined her GC chances on Stage one, former British champion Hayley Simmonds (WNT-Rotor) set a new bench mark, four seconds faster.

The Cambridge graduate occupied the leader’s hot seat in the finish town of Gastiez for some time, before the race heated up as the overall favourites arrived home. A flurry of riders deposed her from her seat before Mitchelton-Scott’s New Zealand champion Georgia Williams knocked 18 seconds off the Brit’s time.

That was not the last we saw of the British riders though, with Hannah Barnes (Canyon-SRAM) stopping the clock two seconds faster than her compatriot, ultimately finishing  11th, with Simmonds one place behind her.

Having started the day sixth on GC van Vleuten was able to savour her winning time as the final five riders crossed the line unable to best her.

With Brennauer unable to match the other top four riders in the hills they will tackle in the final two stages it is now down to van der Breggen and Moolman-Pasio to attack van Vleuten. Both are arguably better climbers, though they will need to be aware of the bonus seconds available over the next two days is they are to win the overall.

Tomorrow will see the peloton tackle two second and one third category climbs during the 114.5km course starting and finishing in Aretxabaleta.

Results

Emakumeen Bira 2018: stage two: Gazteiz-Vitoria to Gazteiz-Vitoria, 26.6km (ITT)

1. Annemiek van Vleuten (Ned) Mitchelton-Scott in 34-00
2. Anna van der Breggen (Ned) Boels-Dolmans at 14s
3. Lisa Brennauer (Ger) Wiggle-High5 at 44s
4. Ashleigh Mailman-Pasio (RSA) Cervélo-Bigla at 53 s
5. Georgia Williams (NZ) Mitchelton-Scott at 1-10
6. Olga Zabalenskaya (Rus) Cogeas-Mettler at 1-12
7. Karol-Ann Canuel (Can) Boels-Dolmans at 1-15
8. Ann-Sophie Duyck (Bel) Cervélo-Bigla at 1-19
9. Gracie Elvin (Aus) Mitchelton-Scott at 1-20
10. Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig (Den) Cervélo-Bigla

General classification after stage two

1. Annemiek van Vleuten (Ned) Mitchelton-Scott in 3-25-38
2. Anna van der Breggen (Ned) Boels-Dolmans at 14s
3. Lisa Brennauer (Ger) Wiggle-High5 at 41s
4. Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio (RSA) Cervélo-Bigla at 52
5. Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig (Den) Cervélo-Bigla at 1-29
6. Elena Cecchini (Ita) Canyon-SRAM at 1-31
7. Amanda Spratt (Aus) Mitchelton-Scott at 1-36
8. Martina Ritter (Aut) Wiggle-High5 at 1-38
9. Elisa Longo-Borghini (Ita) at 1-39
10. Georgia Williams (NZ) Mitchelton-Scott at 2-00