Another podium for Van Vleuten after great team work on stage five in ThüringenTue 19 Jul 2016
ORICA-AIS displayed great commitment and teamwork on stage five of Thüringen Rundfahrt, putting themselves in numerous situations to challenge for the stage win.
Annemiek Van Vleuten rounded off a fantastic effort from the team by claiming third place in a close finale behind stage winner Marianna Vos (Rabo-LIv), which secures her second spot in the general classification for another day.
Last year's stage winner, Gracie Elvin was present in one of the main breakaways of the day. Alongside Linda Villumsen (United Health Care), the duo worked hard to establish a strong lead.
"It was one of the same stages as last year that we actually won," explained Elvin after the finish. "So we wanted to use similar tactics and get one or two of us in the early break and then play a numbers game in the final and that's exactly what we did."
"It was hard with just myself and Linda out there, she's obviously a super strong rider and we were able to work well together and lasted until less than 10kilometres to go.
"I pulled until my last breath and then the rest of the girls took over and all did their job very well. Everyone put their best foot forward."
Once Elvin was finally reeled in, ORICA-AIS continued to light up the race with Rachel Neylan immediately launching up the road.
Neylan led solo through the closing stages until she was joined by three others including her teammate, Australian champion Amanda Spratt, creating another perfect position for the team to be in, until they too were sadly reeled back in.
After these two promising but failed breakaway attempts, Dutch rider Annemiek Van Vleuten was next to give it a go, attacking out of the wheels for a last chance attempt.
After the stage sport director Gene Bates was extremely happy with the team performance with the way they executed the tactics and fought right until the final moments.
"It was probably the best race I've seen from the team this whole season," said Bates. "It was outright excellent. Really, really good today."
"They were in every move, the instigators of many of the attacks and I think it was really unlucky for us not to come away with the win in the final."
In the finale Van Vleuten was passed just on the line but still managed to secured a podium spot for team, sprinting into third place to cap off a very active and successful day for the Australian outfit.
"Third place on the stage is excellent," continued Bates. "However, I really think today they all deserved the stage win. Throughout the whole day, the whole team was superb."
How it happened:
Stage five was one of the longer and tougher stages of the tour. The 122kilometre hilly stage saw fireworks from the very beginning.
With the general classification still fairly close and many riders hitting top form in their build up to the Rio Olympic Games, the field certainly didn't wait around for anyone.
With a continuous stream of attacks and small groups forming it was an action packed opening to the stage.
Due to the tough terrain and no real moments of respite, the peloton split into several groups with a large front group of around 40 riders with many from ORICA-AIS represented.
Exactly one year ago on this date Elvin claimed a solo stage victory, and the former Australian champion once again showed her aggressive style of racing by going off the front of the bunch into one of the most promising moves of the day.
Join by Villumsen the duo, both strong powerful riders, quickly created an advantage of one minute and 45seconds within the final 40km of the stage.
Cervelo-Bigla and the race leaders Boels-Dolmans headed the chase to reel the two leaders back in eventually ending their solid attempt with less than 10kilometres of the stage remaining.
Immediately after, ORICA-AIS teammate Neylan tried her chances and counter attacked to gain a small advantage. Neylan was able to hold around a ten second advantage as the finish line drew near. Once Spratt and two others jumped across it appeared to be the perfect scenario for the team.
However, like Elvin's attempt it was not to be and the leaders were swallowed in the final kilometres.
Just 15 riders remained at the front when Van Veluten launched a suprise final attack. Unfortunately for the team Vos closed in and passed the ORICA-AIS rider on the line to steal the victory.
Neylan held for sixth place after her gutsy late attack with Van Vleuten racing to another podium finish, taking third spot.
After the stage, Elvin was awarded the most aggressive jersey after her long breakaway out front and Van Vleuten remains in second place in the overall general classification with two stages remaining. Overall, a very positive and promising day for the team.
Thüringen Rundfahrt stage five results:
1. Marianna Vos (Rabo-Liv) 2:38:35
2. Elena Cecchini (Canyon-Sram) ST
3. Annemiek Van Vleuten (ORICA-AIS) ST
General classification after stage five:
1. Ellen Van Dijk (Boels-Dolmans) 10:29:46
2. Annemiek Van Vleuten (ORICA-AIS) +0:13
3. Marianna Vos (Rabo-Liv) +0:30