Solid sixth for Van Vleuten on the opening stage of Emakumeen BiraSat 19 May 2018
World time trial champion Annemiek van Vleuten finished in sixth place on the opening stage of today's WorldTour race Emakumeen Bira, after her late move was brought back and Sabrina Stultiens (Waowdeals) claimed a solo victory into Legazpi, after attacking in the closing kilometres.
With the overall classification a goal for the team and Van Vleuten, the Dutch rider looked to the intermediate bonus seconds up for grabs on today's first stage and successfully took top points, three seconds, in the first prime sprint.
With just three category three climbs on the menu, it wasn't the hardest stage of the week, however, Van Vleuten was able to breakaway with three other climbers on one of the final steep slopes, a move which looked promising, as they opened up a gap of over one minute on the peloton coming into the final part of the race.
Despite their efforts, a chasing group was able to catch the four leaders and end their efforts. Stultiens was the only rider from the small group who was able to get away and held on for the stage victory.
In contention overall
Mitchelton-SCOTT and Van Vleuten remain very much in contention with Van Vleuten now in sixth place overall with an important indivudal time trial stage coming tomorrow, a stage which suits the world time trial champion with a lenghty distance of 26kilometres. It will be a special stage where she can race in her rainbow colour for the first time in a European time trial for 2018.
Annemiek van Vleuten - 6th place
"I felt good today, we were a bit surprised about the final climb, we reconed it but the course was slightly changed and I was not in a good position for it. We were all a bit surprised but I had good legs, I wasn't in a good position but managed to be top four and went down the descent solo, caught back and then attacked right away.
"I was thinking maybe it wasn't so smart because I want to do a good time trial but it was Moolman (Cervelo-Bigla) and Van der Breggen (Boels-Dolmans) behind me and they are here for GC so they also had to chase hard.
"When they caught me with five kilometres to go, I only watched van der Breggen and Stultiens attacked. I feel good and confident going into tomorrow. The whole team did well, we put them under some pressure, the other teams and we were very attentive on the climbs and descent. We will see tomorrow after the time trial and I look forward to it."
Emakumeen Bira stage 1 results:
1. Sabrina Stultiens (Waowdeals) 2:51:24
2. Lisa Brennauer (Wiggle-High5) +0:17
3. Giorgia Bronzini (Cylance) +0:17
6. Annemiek van Vleuten (Mitchelton-SCOTT) ST
Photo courtesy of Getty Images