Van Vleuten solos to Gold in Women’s Elite Road Race
Annemiek van Vleuten turned the women’s elite road race into a 100km time trial to take the rainbow jersey for the Netherlands. Second spot went to teammate and defending champion Anna van der Breggen (Boels – Dolmans Cycling Team) with Australia’s Amanda Spratt taking bronze.
In front of massive crowds enjoying a day off from the inclement weather the 36 year old Mitchelton-Scott Pro took off on the Lofthouse climb to spend the next three hours holding off a determined pursuit that never really looked like making the catch.
Her lead held to around the two minute mark over the closing 30 km and despite determined efforts by several strong riders including 2015 Champion Brit Lizzie Deignan, who is from Yorkshire, Anna van der Breggen and champion from the Individual Time Trial American Chloe Dygert-Owen to take back some time her lead bent but did not break.
As the race neared the circuits of Harrogate and Van Vleuten grasp on gold became increasingly certain it turned into a competition for the silver and bronze out of a group of just four riders, van der Breggen , Spratt, Elisa Borghini of Italy and Dygert-Owen. When the race entered its third and final 14 km lap of Harrogate just van der Breggen and Spratt remained in contention. Van der Breggen proved the stronger dropping Spratt on a small hill to take silver 2’15” behind her compatriot, with Spratt taking bronze at 2’28”. Borghini took fourth, Dygert-Owen fifth with Marianne Vos leading home the peloton 5’20” after the winner.
Netherlands rider Annemiek van Vleuten said: “That was crazy. I knew the climb was really far from the finish but once I’d attacked my coach told me to keep riding hard and I was lucky I had really good legs. It was definitely not planned but I’d trained so hard for this – put in so many hours on the bike – and I thought ‘if anyone can do this, it’s you’. As I was riding I was thinking ‘maybe I could make history today’, and if it didn’t work out I knew Anna [van der Breggen] was in a great position behind.
“So many emotions, my mother was here, that’s really special for me. It was such a big dream for me to be world champion, I’ve been world champion in the time trial, but on the road you can wear it so much more often.
“It was only towards the end that I dared to believe, and I was being cheered on by so many fans. The crowds in Bradford were huge at the start and I had so much encouragement out on the course as well. British fans are amazing and I want to thank them all for helping make this win so amazing.”
86th World Championships Women’s Elite Road Race Results: