Van Vleuten goes down fighting on the final stage of the Boels Ladies Tour

Sun 8 Sep 2019

World time trial champion Annemiek van Vleuten went down fighting on the final stage of the Boels Ladies Tour before being caught up in a crash inside the closing kilometres.

The former double winner of the race got quickly back on her bike, but she couldn’t prevent the day ending in small bunch sprint despite numerous attacks around the finishing circuit in Arnhem.

Final Chance

The first move to stick on stage five came as the bunch passed through the halfway point as a lone attacker went clear. With the leader posing no threat on the general classification there was no real chase from the peloton and the gap grew out to over three-minutes with 50-kilometres remaining.

With nobody willing to chase, Mitchelton-SCOTT took it upon themselves to animate the race. Local rider Moniek Tenniglo was the first rider to move to the fore and increase the tempo, but she was soon reeled in by the bunch. However, as the attack was shutdown, teammate Georgia Williams launched a counter attack, which was also quickly neutralised.

It was then Van Vleuten’s turn as the peloton approached the first of the categorised climbs, but the former race leader couldn’t coax her rivals to work with her. The climb reduced the numbers in the pack as Van Vleuten continued to press on, with gap to the leader falling to one-minute.

All or Nothing

The race then burst into life on the second climb of the day, with the lone escapee caught as Lucinda Brand (Team Sunweb) jumped away on the slopes. Van Vleuten then set off in pursuit, distancing the rest of the peloton inside the final 30-kilometres, but the prologue winner couldn’t make the junction as the pack reeled her in with 24-kilometres to go.

Across the line for the first time and the gap stood at 23-seconds but it was back together at the start of the next lap, with a number of teams trying to control the race. However, Van Vleuten had different ideas as she split the pack on a small rise, and the move triggered a host of attacks from various riders on the final lap.

There was then late drama for Van Vleuten when she was caught up in a crash with two-kilometres remaining. The 36-year-old was quickly back to her feet but was out of the finale as Chiara Consonni (Valcar Cylance Cycling) took the reduced sprint.

Annemiek van Vleuten:
"You never get better from a crash, that’s what I say. So I’m not feeling awesome, I have a little bit of headache. Someone crashed in front of me and I couldn’t avoid it and I hit my head, so I’m going to take it easy and hopefully it will be better in a few days. I’m a bit sad to end the race like this."

"I had a really good final, I know where the hills were because it’s my training area. I think Moniek and Georgia also did a really good job to try something at halfway and then I tried where it was a bit more hilly. I had a good attempt when I tried to get across to Lucinda Brand, but I just couldn’t get there, otherwise I think we could have put Boels Dolmas under pressure between the two of us."

"But I’m happy with my legs and happy with my attacks and also in the final, at least I made life a bit hard for the Boels girls."

Martin Vestby (Sports Director):
"We went all in today, there was nothing to lose really, so it was all about seeing if we could get a stage win, that was the main priority."

"Just before we came into the hillier part and the local lap we used Moniek and Georgia for some attacks to try and make it as hard as possible before the climbs and it worked well. Annemiek had a really brilliant final with a lot of good attacks and she was close to get away a couple of times, but at least we did what we could."

"We can’t be 100% satisfied with the Tour, but I think we were put in a difficult position with Sarah Roy crashing out on the first stage and that meant we didn’t have somebody for the sprints. So, we just had to be as aggressive as we could, but there hasn’t been a lot of crosswind so we had to wait for the stages and our moments. Finishing off with the way we rode today was good."

Boels Ladies Tour 2019 Stage 4 Results:
1. Chiara Consonni (Valcar Cylance Cycling) 3:56:26
2. Lorena Wiebes (Parkhotel Valkenburg) ST
3. Lucinda Brand (Team Sunweb) ST
36. Annemiek van Vleuten (Mitchelton-SCOTT)

Boels Ladies Tour 2019 General Classification:
1. Christine Majerus (Boels - Dolmans Cycling Team) 17:01:17
2. Lorena Wiebes (Parkhotel Valkenburg) +0:26
3. Lisa Klein (Canyon SRAM) +0:30
6. Annemiek van Vleuten (Mitchelton-SCOTT) +0:42

Photos Courtesy of Getty Images.