Van Vleuten storms to second place at Boels-Rental Hills ClassicFri 27 May 2016
Former Boels-Rental Hills Classic winner Annemiek Van Vleuten had an incredible ride today to finish in second place in the challenging UCI 1.1 category race.
The 33-year-old showed her form on the climbs riding into the race winning move which formed on the Cauberg with 25kilometres remaining.
Van Vleuten displayed incredible determination attacking all the way to the finish line and in the end the only rider to spoil the party was world champion Lizzie Armitstead (Boels-Dolmans) who proved too fast in the uphill sprint to take victory.
Sport director Loes Gunnewijk was overjoyed with the whole team and the performance from Van Vleuten.
"It was a heavy race today but a really good result in the end," Gunnewijk explained. "Annemiek was able to drop Lizzie the last time up the Cauberg but unfortunately for her Lizzie was able to come back again."
"She really tried so hard today, she attacked again with 800m to go and had a little gap but in the final Lizzie was able to come past. Annemiek really wanted to take the win today but in the end she couldn't have done much more.
"It was a wonderful ride for her and we had numbers up the front the whole time with the team. All-round it was a great day for the team."
Recently selected to represent Holland at the Rio Olympic Games, Van Vleuten has been working on her climbing and certainly proved her ability today, taking confience from her showing.
"It was really good for Annemiek's confidence today," Gunnewijk continued. "Before the race she was thinking she wouldn't be able to follow Lizzie on the climbs after Lizzie's great spring, but she actually surprised herself."
"With it being her first race back after a training camp she is pleased with the result, but it is always hard to finish in second."
How it happened:
The riders took to the start line in the south of Holland ready to take on the challenging 131.4km race. With a strong field present and climbs starting from the beginning everything was in place for a demanding day in the saddle.
In the opening kilometres riders began to struggle with the pace and the peloton started to disintegrate. As the unforgiving short but steep climbs came one by one, ORICA-AIS worked well together, keeping out of trouble and placing themselves near the front in an attempt to save as much energy as possible.
It was after the half-way mark when the riders completed two accents of the Camerig that a significant front group formed made up of 23 riders.
Four ORICA-AIS riders; Amanda Spratt, Gracie Elvin, Katrin Garfoot and Van Vleuten successfully made it into the lead group along with many of the other race favourites, however as the pace dropped the chasing group rejoined.
A flurry of attacks followed but as the riders began famous Cauberg climb, Van Vleuten was able to ride herself into a dangerous breakaway of five riders.
The group included all the race favourites including Armitstead, Ellen Van Dijk (Boels-Dolmans), Marianne Vos (Rabo-Liv) and Ashleigh Moolman (Cervelo-Bigla) as they worked together with only 25kilometres remaining to rapidly increase their advantage.
The strong group opened up their lead to over one minute 30seconds as they head up the Bemmelenberg with further tough climbs still to come. The group remained together until the final two kilometres when they started the Cauberg for the final time.
Van Vleuten was able to open up a gap with Moolman on this penultimate climb but as the duo headed towards the final climb, Armitstead clawed her way back leaving the trio to battle it out.
Giving it everything she had Van Vleuten tried once again with 800m to go opening up another small gap however with the uphill finish world champion Armitstead proved too fast, closing in and then passing Van Vleuten, leaving her to settle for second place after a gutsy ride.
Boels-Rental Hills Classic results:
1. Lizzie Armitstead (Boels-Dolmans)
2. Annemiek Van Vleuten (ORICA-AIS)
3. Ashleigh Moolman (Cervelo-Bigla)