2. Anna van der Breggen
27, Netherlands, Boels-Dolmans
2017 wins: 5
Joining Boels-Dolmans from Rabo-Liv in 2017, Dutch rider Anna van der Breggen marked her arrival with total dominance of the Ardennes Classics.
Van der Breggen completed the hat-trick during the first year in which the women’s peloton has contested all three landmark classics: the Flèche Wallonne Feminine, and the women’s iterations of the Amstel Gold Race and Liège-Bastogne-Liège.
The reigning Olympic Champion kicked off her winning steak by soloing to victory at the women’s Amstel Gold Race, on Sunday April 16, finishing a clear 55 seconds ahead of her team mate Lizzie Deignan. Behind Polish rider Kasia Newiadoma (WM3 Energy) and compatriot Annemiek van Vleuten (Orica-Scott) tied for third.
Days later – at Le Flèche Wallone on Wednesday April 19 – Van der Breggen won again, marking here third victory at the event and incredibly sitting atop a near identical podium – with Deignan once again second, Newiadoma third and van Vleuten fourth.
The gaps were closer, with Deignan 16 seconds adrift after van der Breggen bridged to her and Niewiadoma before powering clear on the final kilometres to attack the 22 percent slope to the finish line solo.
The following Sunday – April 23 – the clean sweep was complete with a win at Liège-Bastogne-Liège – with Deignan 17 seconds back and none other than Niewiadoma third.
Carrying form into the early summer races, van der Breggen clinched the overall at the Amgen Tour of California, winning by just one second thanks to time bonuses claimed in intermediate sprints. The extra seconds meant she took the lead ahead of Katie Hall (United Healthcare) who had taken the lead following stage two of the four stage event.
That, of course, was not all. Come July, van der Breggen attacked the Giro Rosa with determination and prowess, stepping into the maglia rosa on stage two and wearing it to the end. The closest rival was Wiggle-High5’s Elisa Longo-Borghini at 1-03, with van Vleuten at 1-39.
The string of convincing victories meant that van der Breggen became the second winner of the UCI Women’s WorldTour competition, lifting the honour from team-mate and 2016 winner, Megan Guarnier. In total, van der Breggen amassed 1016 points, clear of nearest rival van Vleuten with 989.