Journalists often overlook the significance of a second-placed result, focussing more on the failure to win than the importance of a podium finish.
"I think it's really good for women's cycling that it's not only the Dutch girls that are making it hard for each other," Van Vleuten said on Saturday.
The Dutch riders have been utterly dominant for years, with the now-retired Anna van der Breggen holding the record for seven straight wins on the Mur de Huy. The Dutch women have won six of the last ten road world championships, Lorena Wiebes has the most wins of 2022 and Van Vleuten is the number 1 rider of the past 12 months.
But the rest of the world is catching up a little. Italy has the rainbow jersey on Elisa Balsamo's shoulders, Elisa Longo Borghini won Paris-Roubaix and Cavalli is on the cusp of a possible Ardennes triple in Liège-Bastogne-Liège.
"I think it's super good that other nationalities step up – also with the win of Lotte Kopecky [in Tour of Flanders, ed] – it's what we need in women's cycling," Van Vleuten said.
The 39-year-old has complained several times this spring that races were not selective enough and looks forward to these teams helping the progression of women's cycling.
"We need more nationalities and more girls that win, also more teams to take responsibility in the race. I think it's a great sign that women's cycling is developing."
Another reason why Van Vleuten is satisfied with three second-placed finishes in Flèche Wallonne, Tour of Flanders and Strade Bianche after starting the season with a victory in her first race was that she spent much of the winter recovering from a fractured pubis from a crash in the muddy, treacherous debut of the women's Paris-Roubaix.
"In the middle of December I was still on crutches so it's already amazing to win in the first races of the season - only two months later to win Omloop Het Nieuwsblad in an incredible way. I'm completely recovered and it's [been] an amazing spring.
"I was super happy with my second place in La Flèche Wallonne. It was the third time I got on the podium, so for me it was a really good performance. Someone was better than me, I always evaluate if I can do something better but I don't think I could have done anything more.
Asked about her ambitions for Liège-Bastogne-Liège, Van Vleuten replied, "Tomorrow I prefer to have my best performance ever, to leave everything on the road and see what the result is. I'm always happy if I give everything and that's the goal for tomorrow."
When asked separately about Movistar's tactics for the race, she gave a wry smile and replied, "You just wait until the last 200m and then we go for the sprint." Pressed further, she replied, "people need to get up early to see how the race will be won."
The women's Liège-Bastogne-Liège starts at 8:40 a.m. local time and finishes at approximately 12:30 p.m. Tune into Cyclingnews for live coverage of the entire race followed by a full report, results, news and analysis of the last of the Spring Classics. Find out how to watch Liège-Bastogne-Liège here.
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Laura Weislo has been with Cyclingnews since 2006 after making a switch from a career in science. As Deputy Editor, she coordinates coverage for North American events and global news. A former elite-level road racer who dabbled in cyclo-cross and track, Laura has a passion for all three disciplines. When not working she likes to go camping and explore lesser traveled roads, paths and gravel tracks.
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