Anna van der Breggen: I did not expect to win like this

'This is a big one' says 2018 Tour of Flanders winner

Anna van der Breggen (Boels Dolmans) took care of unfinished business at the Tour of Flanders on Sunday when she soloed to victory in the Women's WorldTour classic, winning one of the few races still missing on her rich palmarès.

Victory was even sweeter, keeping in mind that Van der Breggen was close to victory in this race last year. Part of a four-rider break in the 2017 final, she was, ordered to stop working with the group as the team decided to instead back sprinter Chantal Blaak, who then finished third in the sprint.

Van der Breggen went on to win a number of races afterwards, including the Ardennes treble of the Amstel Gold Race, Flèche Wallonne, and Liège-Bastogne-Liège, all in solo escapes. She also took the Giro Rosa and the Women's WorldTour overall classification.

In the first race of her 2018 season, Van der Breggen won the Strade Bianche with another solo, and now it was time for the Tour of Flanders-winning solo, attacking just after the Kruisberg with 27km to the finish. She also lead an all-Dutch podium and later celebrated with men's winner and compatriot Niki Terpstra.

"We needed a hard race. I saw that Jolien D'hoore was strong today, if she is still in the group at the end … You never know. It was early to do it as it is still long to go. On the other hand there was 'only' the Oude Kwaremont and the Paterberg left. If you can keep your tempo over those, it is possible to stay away," Van der Breggen explained after her victory.

"I cannot wait for a sprint finish, because then I am not going to win. And if you have a strong team, it is good to do an attack like this so your teammates do not have to chase and can save themselves. If it does not work out, the other girls can attack afterwards. As a tactic, it suits our team."

Van der Breggen's wins also include the 2016 Olympic Games road race, and she is happy that her Boels Dolmans team allows her to pick her own program, choosing the events she likes to race - or has yet to win. This Tour of Flanders was an important victory for her.

"This is a big one. I felt well today, but I did not expect to win this way. It goes pretty high in my palmarès. The Tour of Flanders is one of the biggest races each year, and to finish it off and win like this is awesome. This is what we train for every day, it is a great feeling to cross the line first like this."

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