Van Vleuten wins women's Strade Bianche

Langvad second, Niewiadoma third

Annemiek van Vleuten (Mitchelton-Scott) ended the 2018 season with a fractured knee cap but confirmed she is already back to her best with a solo victory at Strade Bianche, the first race of the UCI Women's WorldTour, on Saturday.

The time trial world champion attacked alone on the final, steep section of dirt road and time trialled to victory as her rivals hesitated in their chase.

She opened a 45-second lead and held it on the steep final climb of Via Santa Caterina up to central Siena, celebrating her solo win in the Piazza il Campo. Annika Langvad (Boels Dolmans) finished second at 37 seconds, with Katarzyna Niewiadoma Canyon-SRAM third at 40 seconds.

World champion Anna van der Breggen was distanced from the big-name group that tried to chase van Vleuten on the final climb and finished ninth at 1:28.

125 riders from 21 teams set out on the 136km course starting and finishing in Siena. The main difficulties were the eight sectors of the gravel roads that gave the race its name. Ranging in length from 800 metres to 9.5km, a total of 31.6km were to be raced on the eponymous strade bianche.

A first break of four riders formed after 16km, but they were caught again on the second gravel sector.

Team Sunweb and CCC-Liv took charge of the peloton early in the race. On the fourth sector, the peloton split for the first time, but came back together on the asphalt. It was on sector five, the longest at 9.5km and starting with 67.5km to go, that the race started in earnest. Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig (Bigla) had to chase back after a puncture, and Amanda Spratt (Mitchelton-Scott) crashed and had to abandon the race.

Several attacks led to splits in the peloton but, in the end, a group of about 35 riders left the sector together, with additional riders coming back from behind. There were 25 kilometres to the sixth sector - but this didn't stop riders from attacking. A group of 12 briefly got clear and, although their attack did not last long, another split led to a front group of 23 riders.

A move by Karol-Ann Canuel (Boels Dolmans), Hannah Barnes (Canyon-SRAM), Jeanne Korevaar (CCC-Liv), Julie van de Velde (Lotto Soudal Ladies), Audrey Cordon-Ragot (Trek-Segafredo), and Lucinda Brand (Team Sunweb) built a gap of 24 seconds before being reeled in with 33km to go.

The next attack came from Canuel, Elena Cecchini (Canyon-SRAM), and Tayler Wiles (Trek-Segafredo). The trio was caught on the sixth gravel sector, and then a group of 11 went clear on the seventh sector ending with 17km to go. The race would be decided between world champion Anna van der Breggen, Chantal Blaak, Langvad (all Boels Dolmans), Ludwig, Niewiadoma, Marianne Vos (CCC-Liv), Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio (CCC-Liv), Van Vleuten, Janneke Ensing (Team Sunweb), Marta Bastianelli (Team Virtu Cycling), and Ruth Winder (Trek-Segafredo).

Those 11 traded attacks continuously, though nobody would get a gap until Blaak and Ensing made a move with 13.5km to go, just before the start of the final gravel sector. Blaak left Ensing behind but faltered on the 18 per cent climb and was caught by Van Vleuten, who continued on her own. Vos and Niewiadoma tried to follow the Dutchwoman but could not close the gap.

Showing why she is the reigning ITT world champion, Van Vleuten added to her advantage on the following kilometres and could enter the final kilometre 46 seconds ahead of the chase group. In the end, she could celebrate on the Piazza del Campo as she soloed to victory just over five months after fracturing her knee in the Innsbruck World Championships Road Race.

Further behind, nine riders came onto the final climb up the steep Via Santa Caterina together. After a strong surge by Niewiadoma, it was Langvad who reached the corner at the top first and finished second in her first-ever Women's WorldTour race. The Polish rider rounded out the podium.

With her win, Van Vleuten takes the lead in the UCI Women's WorldTour ranking, picking up where she left off after having won the classification in 2018.

Results

#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Annemiek Van Vleuten (Ned) Mitchelton Scott3:48:49 
2Annika Langvad (Den) Boels Dolmans Cyclingteam0:00:37 
3Katarzyna Niewiadoma (Pol) Canyon-Sram Racing0:00:40 
4Marta Bastianelli (Ita) Team Virtu Cycling0:00:44 
5Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig (Den) Bigla  
6Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio (RSA) Ccc-Liv0:00:51 
7Marianne Vos (Ned) Ccc-Liv0:00:52 
8Janneke Ensing (Ned) Team Sunweb0:00:54 
9Anna Van Der Breggen (Ned) Boels Dolmans Cyclingteam0:01:28 
10Chantal Blaak (Ned) Boels Dolmans Cyclingteam0:01:50 
11Ruth Winder (USA) Trek-Segafredo0:02:50 
12Tatiana Guderzo (Ita) Bepink0:03:33 
13Eri Yonamine (Jpn) Ale Cipollini  
14Soraya Paladin (Ita) Ale Cipollini0:03:35 
15Aude Biannic (Fra) Movistar Team Women0:03:36 
16Ellen Van Dijk (Ned) Trek-Segafredo  
17Leah Thomas (USA) Bigla0:03:38 
18Shara Gillow (Aus) Fdj Nouvelle-Aquitaine Futuroscope0:03:39 
19Jeanne Korevaar (Ned) Ccc-Liv0:03:41 
20Audrey Cordon Ragot (Fra) Trek-Segafredo  
21Alena Amialiusik (Blr) Canyon-Sram Racing0:03:44 
22Julie Van De Velde (Bel) Lotto Soudal Ladies  
23Clara Koppenburg (Ger) Wnt Rotor Pro Cycling Team  
24Anastasiia Chursina (Rus) Btc City Ljubljana0:03:47 
25Lucy Kennedy (Aus) Mitchelton Scott0:03:50 
26Michela Balducci (Ita) Aromitalia-Basso Bikes-Vaiano  
27Rasa Leleivyte (Ltu) Aromitalia-Basso Bikes-Vaiano0:03:53 
28Claudia Koster (Ned) Wnt Rotor Pro Cycling Team0:04:08 
29Lucinda Brand (Ned) Team Sunweb0:04:17 
30Rachel Neylan (Aus) Team Virtu Cycling0:04:19 
31Anouska Koster (Ned) Team Virtu Cycling0:04:34 
32Romy Kasper (Ger) Ale Cipollini0:04:45 
33Malgorzata Jasinska (Pol) Movistar Team Women  
34Karol-Ann Canuel (Can) Boels Dolmans Cyclingteam0:04:49 
35Jip Van Den Bos (Ned) Boels Dolmans Cyclingteam0:04:58 
36Evita Muzic (Fra) Fdj Nouvelle-Aquitaine Futuroscope0:05:19 
37Tayler Wiles (USA) Trek-Segafredo0:05:22 
38Liane Lippert (Ger) Team Sunweb  
39Hannah Barnes (GBr) Canyon-Sram Racing  
40Marta Cavalli (Ita) Valcar Cylance Cycling0:06:22 
41Riejanne Markus (Ned) Ccc-Liv0:07:30 
42Tiffany Cromwell (Aus) Canyon-Sram Racing  
43Elena Cecchini (Ita) Canyon-Sram Racing0:09:33 
44Paulien Rooijakkers (Ned) Ccc-Liv0:09:36 
45Alicia Gonzalez Blanco (Spa) Movistar Team Women0:09:41 
46Erica Magnaldi (Ita) Wnt Rotor Pro Cycling Team0:10:08 
47Alison Jackson (Can) Team Tibco-Silicon Valley Bank  
48Elise Chabbey (Swi) Bigla0:11:59 
49Sofia Bertizzolo (Ita) Team Virtu Cycling0:12:55 
50Juliette Labous (Fra) Team Sunweb  
51Katia Ragusa (Ita) Bepink0:13:00 
52Grace Brown (Aus) Mitchelton Scott  
53Leah Kirchmann (Can) Team Sunweb  
54Eugenia Bujak (Slo) Btc City Ljubljana0:13:04 
55Lara Vieceli (Ita) Wnt Rotor Pro Cycling Team0:13:05 
56Sofia Beggin (Ita) Aromitalia-Basso Bikes-Vaiano0:13:20 
57Jessica Allen (Aus) Mitchelton Scott  
58Barbara Guarischi (Ita) Team Virtu Cycling0:13:46 
59Greta Richioud (Fra) Fdj Nouvelle-Aquitaine Futuroscope0:15:00 
60Coryn Rivera (USA) Team Sunweb  
OTLDiana Carolina Peñuela Martinez (Col) Ale Cipollini  
OTLDanielle Christmas (GBr) Lotto Soudal Ladies  
OTLVictorie Guilman (Fra) Fdj Nouvelle-Aquitaine Futuroscope  
OTLPaula Andrea Patiño Bedoya (Col) Movistar Team Women  
OTLSara Penton (Swe) Team Virtu Cycling  
OTLAgnieszka Skalniak (Pol) Ccc-Liv  
OTLMikayla Harvey (NZl) Bigla  
OTLDebora Silvestri (Ita) Eurotarget-Bianchi-Vittoria  
OTLAnna Potokina (Rus) Servetto-Piumate-Beltrami Tsa  
OTLJelena Eric (Srb) Ale Cipollini  
OTLHannah Ludwig (Ger) Canyon-Sram Racing  
OTLMaria Vittoria Sperotto (Ita) Bigla  
OTLAnnelies Dom (Bel) Lotto Soudal Ladies  
OTLGloria Rodriguez Sanchez (Spa) Movistar Team Women  
OTLLourdes Oyarbide Jimenez (Spa) Movistar Team Women  
OTLChristine Majerus (Lux) Boels Dolmans Cyclingteam  
OTLRozanne Slik (Ned) Team Tibco-Silicon Valley Bank  
OTLGreta Marturano (Ita) Top Girls Fassa Bortolo  
OTLLaura Tomasi (Ita) Top Girls Fassa Bortolo  
OTLAnna Plichta (Pol) Trek-Segafredo  
OTLLauretta Hanson (Aus) Trek-Segafredo  
OTLNicole Hanselmann (Swi) Bigla  
OTLLetizia Borghesi (Ita) Aromitalia-Basso Bikes-Vaiano  
DNFGeorgia Williams (NZl) Mitchelton Scott  
DNFNadia Quagliotto (Ita) Ale Cipollini  
DNFCarmela Cipriani (Ita) Aromitalia-Basso Bikes-Vaiano  
DNFGiulia Marchesini (Ita) Aromitalia-Basso Bikes-Vaiano  
DNF Tereza Medvedova (Svk) Bepink  
DNFChiara Perini (Ita) Bepink  
DNFSilvia Zanardi (Ita) Bepink  
DNFVania Canvelli (Ita) Bepink  
DNFHanna Nilsson (Swe) Btc City Ljubljana  
DNF Maaike Boogaard (Ned) Btc City Ljubljana  
DNFUrška Žigart (Slo) Btc City Ljubljana  
DNFAnja Longyka (Slo) Btc City Ljubljana  
DNFElena Franchi (Ita) Eurotarget-Bianchi-Vittoria  
DNFAlice Gasparini (Ita) Eurotarget-Bianchi-Vittoria  
DNF Lisa Morzenti (Ita) Eurotarget-Bianchi-Vittoria  
DNF Beatrice Rossato (Ita) Eurotarget-Bianchi-Vittoria  
DNF Charlotte Bravard (Fra) Fdj Nouvelle-Aquitaine Futuroscope  
DNFMaëlle Grossetete (Fra) Fdj Nouvelle-Aquitaine Futuroscope  
DNF Demi De Jong (Ned) Lotto Soudal Ladies  
DNF Marie Dessart (Bel) Lotto Soudal Ladies  
DNF Puck Moonen (Ned) Lotto Soudal Ladies  
DNF Amanda Spratt (Aus) Mitchelton Scott  
DNFSara Casasola (Ita) Servetto-Piumate-Beltrami Tsa  
DNF Markéta Hájková (Cze) Servetto-Piumate-Beltrami Tsa  
DNF Kseniia Dobrynina (Rus) Servetto-Piumate-Beltrami Tsa  
DNFMónika Király (Hun) Servetto-Piumate-Beltrami Tsa  
DNF Yevgeniya Vysotska (Ukr) Servetto-Piumate-Beltrami Tsa  
DNF Ingrid Drexel Clouthier (Mex) Team Tibco-Silicon Valley Bank  
DNF Nina Kessler (Ned) Team Tibco-Silicon Valley Bank  
DNFKendall Ryan (USA) Team Tibco-Silicon Valley Bank  
DNF Elisa Dalla Valle (Ita) Top Girls Fassa Bortolo  
DNF Elena Leonardi (Ita) Top Girls Fassa Bortolo  
DNFMaja Perinovic (Cro) Top Girls Fassa Bortolo  
DNF Martina Stefani (Ita) Top Girls Fassa Bortolo  
DNF Maria Giulia Confalonieri (Ita) Valcar Cylance Cycling  
DNF Vittoria Guazzini (Ita) Valcar Cylance Cycling  
DNF Asja Paladin (Ita) Valcar Cylance Cycling  
DNFSilvia Persico (Ita) Valcar Cylance Cycling  
DNFIlaria Sanguineti (Ita) Valcar Cylance Cycling  
DNF Gabrielle Pilote-Fortin (Can) Wnt Rotor Pro Cycling Team  
DNF Sarah Rijkes (Aut) Wnt Rotor Pro Cycling Team  

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