A consecutive podium finish for Mitchelton-SCOTT women at the Tour of Flanders with Van Vleuten 3rdSun 1 Apr 2018
World time trial champion Annemiek van Vleuten sprinted onto the podium to third place today for Mitchelton-SCOTT, in the sixth women’s WorldTour race of the season, the iconic Tour of Flanders.
Hungry for the victory, the team raced well with numbers at the front all day, but with 27kilometres to go, the winning move came from Anna van der Breggen (Boels-Dolmans) who attacked solo and was able to survive to the finish line in Oudenaarde and claim the 2018 victory.
The second half of the 150kilometre race was filled with climbs and cobble sections which led to an attentive peloton for the first 80kilometres. One-rider opened up a one-minute advantage in the early stages but was soon reeled back in as the peloton waited for the main climbs to start the action.
With 60kilometres to go, a large crash in the middle of the peloton on the approach to the Muur van Geraardsbergen caused significant splits in the peloton. Van Vleuten was caught out in the crash but thankfully was able to rejoin the peloton a number of kilometres later.
Ahead, Jolien D’hoore remained at the front of the bunch and looked comfortable as she headed over the steep cobble climb, reaching the top in a small group of six-riders before groups slowly re-joined on the flatter following section.
The race winning move
Last year a late move was caught in the final kilometre and the race concluded with a group sprint, however, today, Van der Breggen decided to take the race into her own hands with a strong attack from a reduced front group with 27kilometres remaining.
Van Vleuten was in the small group with 10 other riders when the Olympic champion attacked, but with four Boels-Dolmans riders in the group, the chase was minumal. Van der Breggen proved to be too strong and very quickly opened up a one minute advantage over the group which soon after swelled in size.
Unwilling to settle
Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio (Cervelo-Bigla) tried to jump across to Van der Breggen ahead of the Oude Kwarmont and was shortly followed by Van Vleuten, unwilling to wait in the chase group, as the solo leader continued to increase her advantage.
After the Paterberg climb Amy Pieters (Boels-Dolmans) and Kasia Nieuwiadoma (Canyon-SRAM) joined the pair and worked to reduced the gap. With no climbs remaining, just flat straight roads, a third chase group joined the four chasers with two kilometres to go, to leave nine riders batting it out for second place.
Van Vleuten was able to sprint on to the podium, in good company, to make it a consecutive podium finish in the Tour of Flanders for Mitchelton-SCOTT.
Annemiek van Vleuten - 3rd place
“Just before the Muur we had a plan that I should attack there, as we didn’t want a slow race. I was at the side with teammates but some girls crashed and I could not avoid it, it was a super big crash. I felt really bad, I crashed on my shoulder and my head but I could continue and was able to come back.”
“Then it was a mental game to start over again, my legs were still good, but I crashed hard on my head which wasn’t ideal but I tried to just focus on the plan."
“I think we were all together at the front all the time. In the end Van der Breggen attacked and it was a very good time to go, and I decided to follow Ellen van Dijk (Team Sunweb) because there were four Boels-Dolmans riders in the group."
“I was a bit isolated there, I tried to ride in the group with the three other riders, but it was bit like the scenario like last year. The group was coming behind and I knew it would be hard for me to sprint to the podium, especially after Amy Pieters was sitting on the whole time."
"I decided to stick to the right side and also with my hand I couldn’t sprint so well, but I gambled and had to sit and wait a but then there was some space, so I am happy. Anna was outstanding today and it was a race from behind and I think I got the maximum out of that especially with the team today.”
Jolien D’hoore - 12th place
“The plan was that Annemiek should be with the climbers in the front and I was just behind so we could play the game bit. Maybe the front group was a bit too big with 10 riders but we just trusted Annemiek and she could go for her own result and we got the podium so we can be pleased with that.”
Tour of Flanders results:
1. Anna van der Breggen (Boels-Dolmans)
2. Amy Pieters (Boels-Dolmans)
3. Annemiek van Vleuten (Mitchelton-SCOTT)
Photo courtesy of Getty Images