Van Vleuten fights to second place on stage one of the Women’s Herald Sun Tour

Tue 30 Jan 2018

World time trial champion Annemiek van Vleuten fought hard to second place on today’s first road stage at the inaugural Women’s Herald Sun Tour presented by Let’s Go Motorhomes.

The 35-year-old found herself in hot pursuit of a solo leader, Brodie Chapman (Team Australia), who attacked and led up the final climb as Van Vleuten closed in but was unable to make the catch before the finish line in Healesville.

Decisive move

After a fairly uneventful start to the race, as teams appeared to be waiting for the final climb, the action all started at once with crashes and attacks. One solo rider broke away after 75kilometres of racing and opened up a lead which sparked a chase group of 12riders to form behind. 

Jenelle Crooks was present in the group for Mitchelton-SCOTT as they quickly joined the leader and the time gap jumped out to over two minutes. As the race headed closer to the main decisive climb of the day, Mitchelton-SCOTT sat at the front of the bunch leading the chase with Gracie Elvin and Jess Allen after both making a big effort to rejoin the bunch after Elvin was caught out in a crash.

Myers creek

The lengthy eight kilometre Myers Creek climb caused the leading group to split as Brodie Chapman (Team Australia) attacked away and battled on solo. Hovering just 40seconds ahead of the chasing group, Van Vleuten waited for a good moment and launched an attack over the top of the climb in an attempt to bridge to the leader.

Every second counts

With the race being just two stages long, with a 1.6kilometre time trial tomorrow, it leaves no room for many changes in the general classification and the final 15kilometres of today’s race saw van Vleuten fighting her way towards to the leader, trying to claw back every valuable second in order to minimise loses to still be in with a chance overall.

Annemiek van Vleuten - second place

“It was a beautiful race today a really nice and hard course. It was a great race, team’s wanted to attack and there was a group in front, and I think we played it really well as a team on the last climb.”

“When I attacked on the climb I didn’t know how many girls where in front, I caught one then I heard Chapman was still in front so I just continued and gave it everything. Over every small rise I was giving it everything to try and make up some time and in the end I came close."

“I think Katrin Garfoot (Team Australia) and Lucy Kennedy where probably the strongest on the climb but in one moment when I decided to attack I just went and didn’t look back.”

“It is a short time trial tomorrow, I feel like I already did a 20kilometre time trial today but I was prepared a bit for this scenario.”

“There’s a good chance to win the stage tomorrow, I really want to win that and will give my all and I will be very proud to wear the rainbow jersey - I guess that’s the bonus of being second, I can still wear the rainbow jersey instead of the leaders jersey.”

Gene Bates - sport director

“We had some of the best climbers in the race with Georgia Williams, Lucy and Annemiek so we wanted to keep it together before the climb and we didn’t want a dangerous move to go."

"In the middle of the race Gracie crashed, Jess waited for her and a move went away which was a pretty defining moment. We were on the back foot and the girls did a great job of bringing it back before the climb and got the gap down as much as possible for our three climbers.”

“The girls all did a good ride today and we can be really proud of what we did.”

Tomorrow’s second stage, a short and sharp 1.6kilometre time trial, takes place in the Melbourne central business district where Van Vleuten will debut her world championship rainbow jersey for the first time.

Women’s Herald Sun Tour results:

1. Brodie Chapman (Team Australia) 3:20:10
2. Annemiek van Vleuten (Mitchelton-SCOTT) +0:08
3. Chloe Hosking (Ale Cippollini) +1:02

General Classification after stage one:

1. Brodie Chapman (Team Australia) 3:20:10
2. Annemiek van Vleuten (Mitchelton-SCOTT) +0:12
3. Chloe Hosking (Ale Cippollini) +1:03

Photo courtesy of Getty Images