Annemiek van Vleuten has returned from the season break utterly dominant, as she has extended her winning streak to five races.
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After a five-month lay-off due to coronavirus, the women’s peloton returned to racing on Thursday (July 23) with a trio of one-day races in the Navarre region of Spain, with 37-year-old Van Vleuten taking solo victories in all three.
She said: “I don’t want to be arrogant, it’s unbelievable for me to win these races. I never believed this would have happened.
“To win every race in the [World Champion’s] jersey; for sure I can’t keep this record but for now it’s nice. At first, they wanted to interview me about the curse of the rainbow jersey, but I am really happy I don’t have that curse.”
Van Vleuten’s winning streak started with her 100km solo break during the World Championships last September and continued with her first race of 2020 Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, which she won alone 42 seconds ahead of Marta Bastianelli (Alé BTC Ljubljana).
The coronavirus pandemic then stopped all racing shortly after, but racing returned with the Emakumeen Nafarroako Klasikoa in the Navarre region of Spain on Thursday (July 23), with Van Vleuten taking victory 18 seconds ahead of Mavi Garcia (Alé BTC Ljubljana).
The following day Van Vleuten rode away from her rivals again in the Clasica Femenina to finish 1-14 up on Elisa Longo Borghini (Trek-Segafredo).
Sunday saw Van Vleuten do battle with her compatriot and rival Anna van der Breggen (Boels-Dolmans) in the Durango-Durango Emakumeen Saria with the reigning world champion crossing the line 18 seconds ahead.
Van Vleuten said: “Anna was just behind me between 10 and 15 seconds so I had to go full gas on the descent. I had a bit of a flashback to La Course and last year in the Giro, so it was a really interesting fight between Anna and me. I could not relax on the descent or really enjoy it, but it was a beautiful final.”
She now continues her season in Italy on Saturday (August 1) with the first WorldTour race of the new season, Strade Bianche.