Van Vleuten holds on to her overall lead after the penultimate stage of the Boels Ladies Tour

Sat 1 Sep 2018

Two-time stage winner Annemiek van Vleuten remained calm throughout today's penultimate stage of the Boels Ladies Tour to maintain her overall lead in the race after finishing in 21st place within the main peloton.

It was Chantal Blaak (Boels-Dolmans) who claimed the stage win after attacking away from the day's main breakaway and holding on for a solo victory into Sittard on the longest day of the tour.

A move of four

The 'Queen' stage saw a group of four riders, Blaak, Roxane Knetemann (Ale-Cipollini), Pernille Mathiesen (Sunweb) and Eugenie Duval (FDJ) breakaway from the peloton in the early stages of the day, taking a head start into the 21 climbs on the day's menu.

The leaders created a large advantage of over three and a half minutes before riders began to attack from the constantly reducing peloton. With 50km to go a group of six chasers were able to jump away from the main peloton and began working to bridge across to the front group.

Amanda Spratt was part of the chasing group but despite their efforts, coming just 40seconds from the leaders at one point, they were unable to make the junction and swallowed back up the peloton inside the final 25km.

Fresh attacks

Blaak waited for a good moment over the top of final climb and attacked away from her three breakaway companions and was able to maintain a solid gap ahead of the peloton as she entered the final 10km. 

Spratt stayed close to race leader van Vleuten as the remaining chasers were all finally reeled back in and fresh attacks came.

With no real threat to the overall, Blaak was able to stay away for the victory with van Vleuten finishing within the main but reduced front group, 46seconds behind Blaak and will head into tomorrow's final stage, an individual time trial day, with a 18seconds buffer over second place on GC Lucinda Brand (Sunweb).

Annemiek van Vleuten

 "It was awesome teamwork today, I was never in trouble because they were awesome, it was great to have Gracie (Elvin), Jolien (D'hoore), and Georgia (Williams) riding for me at the front.

"We really liked to have a group away up the road so we were happy those riders went clear with Chantal Blaak around two minutes down overall was fine for us. It was good to have Spratty there, a good climber and super fresh going into the final, I felt very comfortable that we were never in trouble we just and to follow some of the riders.

"We did a really good job and now going into tomorrow with 18seconds over Brand, I hope I still have the legs of the prologue and the Nijmegen stage.

"I will just give everything tomorrow, I just want to go for the perfect time trial and give everything I have and then we will be ok. I look forward to suffering tomorrow."

Boels Ladies Tour results stage 5:

1. Chantal Blaak (Boels-Dolmans) 4:10
2. Giorgia Bronzini (Cylance) +0:46
3. Lucinda Brand (Sunweb) ST
21. Annemiek van Vleuten (Mitchelton-SCOTT) ST

General classification after stage 5:
1. Annemiek van Vleuten (Mitchelton-SCOTT) 14:10
2. Lucinda Brand (Sunweb) +0:18
3. Eugenia Bujak (BTC City) +0:29

Photos courtesy of Getty Images