Van Vleuten and Elvin go on the attack at Dwars door Vlaanderen

Wed 3 Apr 2019

Double world time trial champion Annemiek van Vleuten made an impressive return to racing at Dwars door Vlaanderen, making the select group of favourites before sprinting to seventh place.

Australian Gracie Elvin also made it into the move of the day before being distanced in the closing kilometres after an attacking ride, eventually settling for 11th.

Nervous Start

It was a nervous start to the day with a crash in the neutral zone causing a halt to proceedings before the race had officially got underway.

Despite several attempts, a breakaway didn’t get clear until the peloton reached 75 kilometres to go, with three riders eventually getting away.

Their time out front didn’t last long however, with Mitchelton-SCOTT coming to the head of the peloton to bring the escapees back ahead of the first climb.

Attacking Finale

The upping of pace caused a split in the bunch and the climbs whittled the numbers down further as a select group of favourites edged clear, with Elvin and Van Vleuten amongst them.

The group worked well together to establish a sizeable gap and it looked clear that the race winner would come from the 11 out front with 20 kilometres to go. Elvin tried her luck with an attack on the flat but was soon reeled back, with Van Vleuten covering the counter moves before attacking herself.

Ellen Van Dijk (Trek-Segafredo) was the next rider to roll the dice and as the group looked around at each other, the 2018 winner of the race opened up a significant gap. With the chase taking a while to get organised Van Dijk was able to hold for the win, while Van Vleuten sprinted to seventh from the chasing pack.

Annemiek van Vleuten:
“It was super hard today, we put the hammer down in the second half of the race and on all the climbs I had to go hard, so I did, I completely smashed myself.”

“With 50 kilometres to go I had Gracie there with me and there was a group of 10 riders, I tried a couple of attacks but in the end Ellen van Dijk put in a really strong attack.”

“We tried to bring her back and I tried to bridge across on the last climb after Gracie burnt herself out chasing so I could try and go myself. It was a really nice team effort to play between the two of us.”

Martin Vestby (Sports Director):
“Annemiek had just tried an attack when Van Dijk went and everyone else was looking, it was hard for Annemiek to react on that straight away. Nobody else was reacting and that’s a rider you shouldn’t give 10-15 metres to because you know it’s going to be really dangerous.”

“We rode really aggressive and we put ourselves in that position ourselves a little bit, but there were some good sprinters in that group so we had to try and be aggressive and see if we could split it up.”

“It’s good to see that Annemiek is in good shape, it was a bit of a pity that Gracie wasn’t able to hang in there, that could have changed the picture. But we wanted to see how the girls were going on the climbs before Flanders and I think today gave us some answers.”

Dwars door Vlaanderen Results:
1. Ellen va Dijk (Trek-Segafredo) 
2. Marta Bastianelli (Team Virtu Cycling)
7. Annemiek van Vleuten (Mitchelton-SCOTT)

Photo courtesy of Getty Images.