Winning one road stage and both the prologue and final day time trial, Annemiek van Vleuten successfully defended her Boels Ladies Tour title in the Netherlands on Sunday. The world time trial champion’s performance also proves she the one to beat at the Innsbruck world championships later this month.
Basing her victory on the opening and closing stage time trials, the Dutchwoman's solo win in the first road stage put further time into her rivals, and she eventually won the six day event by 52 seconds from second placed Ellen van Dijk (Sunweb).
Boels-Dolmans’ Olympic champion Anna van der Breggen was third, 1-05 down
It was Dutch dominance throughout the race. Not only were all three steps on the general classification podium filled by Dutch riders, Netherlands based Boels-Dolmans took the three stages van Vleuten did not, though it was their Danish former world road champion, Amalie Dideriksen won two of those.
How it happened
As she did last year, van Vleuten (Mitchelton Scott) led the race from start to finish, taking seven seconds out of compatriot van der Breggen in the 3.3km prologue, before escaping solo late in the hilly stage two in Nijmegen, gaining a further 12 seconds, despite going off course briefly.
Two flat stages followed, and both were ridden combatively, Boels-Dolmans ever present in the breakaways in what is one of the most important events of their season.
In Gennep for stage three, after world champion Chantal Blaak was in the late breakaway, it was GP Plouay winner Amy Pieters who placed team mate Dideriksen perfectly for her sprint win.
The following day was notable for a 100km solo ride from Israel road champion Omer Shapira (Cylance), though a maximum lead of 3.30 was not enough to prevent a bunch sprint, this time with Dideriksen surfing wheels for the win.
Starting and finishing at the Tom Dumoulin Bike Park in Sittard, Saturday’s 158km fifth stage was was the race’s longest and one for the breakaway. This time Boels-Dolmans won with world champion Blaak, the Dutchwoman winning her final road race in the rainbow bands.
Sunday’s final time trial stage saw Van Vleuten dominate once again on the pan flat 18.6km time trial in Roosendaal, the top three on the day replicating that of the general classification.
Winning the stage by 22 seconds, van Vleuten has won all but one of the individual time trials she has started this season. Only in the Dutch national championships did she come unstuck, finishing fourth, since when her form has been devastating.
With victories at the Giro Rosa and La Course to add to this week’s success, not only will she start the Innsbruck time trial as favourite, she has every chance of winning the hilly road race too.
The success puts van Vleuten into the lead of the Women's WorldTour with two races of the series remaining. The next event is the Madrid Challenge by La Vuelta. Taking place on the final two days of the men’s grand tour, it will comprise a team time trial on the Saturday and a criterium the following day.
Boels Ladies Tour - result
1. Annemiek van Vleuten (Ned) Mitchelton Scott in 14-34-54
2. Ellen van Dijk (Ned) Sunweb at 52 seconds
3. Annemiek van Vleuten (Ned) Boels-Dolmans at 1-05
4. Tayler Wiles (USA) USA at 1-44
5. Leah Kirchmann (Can) Sunweb at 1-45
6. Amanda Spratt (Aus) Mitchelton Scott at 2-05
7. Eugenia Bujak (Slo) BTC City Ljubljana 2-09
8. Amy Pieters (Ned) Boels-Dolmans at 2-11
9. Leah Thomas (USA) USA at 2-12
10. Elena Cecchini (Ita) at 2-14
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Owen Rogers is an experienced journalist, covering professional cycling and specialising in women's road racing. He has followed races such as the Women's Tour and Giro d'Italia Donne, live-tweeting from Women's WorldTour events as well as providing race reports, interviews, analysis and news stories. He has also worked for race teams, to provide post race reports and communications.
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