Van Vleuten sprints to fifth as ORICA-AIS race aggressively in Thüringen Rundfahrt

Sun 17 Jul 2016

Stage three of Thüringen Rundfahrt concluded with a bunch sprint, were Dutch time trial champion Annemiek Van Vleuten sprinted into fifth place after a gutsy late attack.

The stage was won by Marianna Vos (Rabo-Liv) with ORICA-AIS racing aggressively in an attempt to breakaway.

Earlier in the day last year's stage winner, Gracie Elvin took her chances finding herself in a promising move with two other riders but was eventually brought back in the final kilometres.

Sport director Martin Barras praised the team's racing style, executing their plans well and showing great determination to try and win the stage in various ways.

"We had clear instructions for the stage today," explained Barras. "We wanted to attack the race and get away. It was a very technical finish and we wanted to take advantage of that."

"There were a lot of opportunities within the final kilometres with the constant turns, so instead of organising a train we sent riders up the road.

"We had three riders attacking and they executed that really well going one after the other. Annemiek was the final rider to attack and she still managed to finish in fifth place.

"As far as executing the plans we couldn't be happier, we did everything we could. At the end of the day we weren't strong enough to pull of the win in the sprint, but we certainly gave ourselves the best opportunities. 

"The stage went really well for us, together as a team we worked all together. Gracie took her chances, a very good chance to try and win the race and when that was brought back we went back to our original plan, making sure we used up all our cards." 

How it happened:

The riders arrived at the stage of stage three in Altenburg ready for another undulating race. After just 20km of racing the peloton ascended a knarly cobbled climb the Steile-Wand.

The climb presented itself too early in the stage to become a deciding factor, nevertheless the stage was still action packed from the beginning with many teams trying to form a breakaway.

Throughout the race ORICA-AIS picked up points with Van Vleuten taking valuable seconds in the intermediate sprint, and Elvin showed her climbing power on the short sharp drags to claim top points on the second Queen of the mountain prime. 

Eventually with 40km remaining a promising breakaway of nine riders formed with Elvin the representative for ORICA-AIS and the group successfully rode out to a one minute advantage.

As the kilometres ticked down the chasing peloton drew nearer and nearer to the leaders and their advantage dropped down to less than 40seconds. Elvin felt the danger and gave it another go, jumping clear of the breakaway with two other riders in a final attempt to stay away until the finish line.

The determined trio worked hard to maintain a small advantage over the chasers and the main bunch, however the charge from behind proved too strong and with just seven kilometres remaining they were swallowed up.

The stage proceeded towards another bunch sprint finish, but ORICA-AIS were not willing to settle and began attacking within the final kilometres, Annemiek was the final rider to attack but was caught as Vos went on to out-sprint the rest on a slight rise up towards the finish line.

Van Vleuten managed to hold on for fifth place and after consistent results she moves into sixth place on the overall classification heading into tomorrow's time trial stage, where she will race in the Dutch national champion colours for the first time.

Thüringen Rundfahrt stage three:

1. Marianna Vos (Rabo-Liv) 3:01:18
2. Emma Johansson (Wiggle-High5) 0:03
3. Ellen Van Dijk (Boels-Dolmans) ST
5. Annemiek Van Vleuten (ORICA-AIS) ST

General classification after stage three:

1. Olga Zabalinskaya (Russian National team) 7:25:57
2. Marianna Vos (Rabo-Liv) +0:03
3. Emma Johansson (Wiggle-High5) +0:21
6. Annemiek Van Vleuten (ORICA-AIS) +0:32