Annemiek van Vleuten (Mitchelton-Scott) was a relieved woman after winning the final time trial of the Boels Ladies Tour and with it the race overall. Van Vleuten is always on the edge on ITT days, but Sunday's 18.6 km race against the clock could not have gone better for her.
"I am a bit nervous before every time trial, but I knew my shape was good," van Vleuten said. "This course suited me, and it is great to end the tour like this. It was the dress rehearsal for the World Championships. I wanted to do everything the same as I would do it there and ride an optimal time trial. So this gives me confidence. I took it a bit easy through the corners, but on the straight parts I had a lot of power."
Having won the prologue on Tuesday, van Vleuten spent the entire race in the orange jersey of the overall leader - a feat that she had already achieved in 2017. Over two years, the Dutchwoman has now been awarded the leader's jersey in the Dutch race 12 consecutive times.
"It is always special to race and win in your home country," van Vleuten said. "And winning in this fashion is really nice. I like how the race is growing year after year, getting ever more professional. Now I will go to altitude and do some training blocks there to prepare for Innsbruck. But first there are a couple of rest days, a good Italian coffee on a mountain, some good food, and I think even a small gelato."
Having started the ITT in second place overall, 18 seconds behind van Vleuten, Lucinda Brand (Team Sunweb) decided not to be content with her runner-up spot. Instead she went all-or-nothing in an attempt to upset van Vleuten - and ended up with nothing as she overcooked a corner, crashed, had to change to her road bike, and dropped through the rankings all the way to a final placing as 21st overall.
"I am very disappointed, and angry at myself, too," Brand said. "It was the only difficult corner on the course. I took some risks, and I knew immediately that I was going into the corner too fast, and then I was already in the barriers. After jumping back on the bike, I realised straight away it was not working any more. I knew it was over, but I finished and did what I could. The injuries are not too bad. Just a bit of road rash, and I may be a bit stiff tomorrow, but that should be it. I don't expect it to be a problem for the World Championships."
For obvious reasons, the Boels Ladies Tour was a very important race for the Boels Dolmans team. Looking back after the final stage, team leader Anna van der Breggen was positive as the team had won three stages in six days as well as the overall team classification.
"We had a really nice week with the team and a lot of fun," Van der Breggen said. "We tried to win every day, and we took three victories, so it was a cool race for us. And it was a special week because it was Megan's last race. It is kind of weird to race with somebody who is racing her last race."
Jeanne Korevaar (WaowDeals) stood on the podium in the white jersey as winner of the U23 classification. Having taken the lead on the challenging stage 1, Korevaar defended her lead on the following days. WaowDeals sports director Jeroen Blijlevens was proud of this performance and is excited about Korevaar's future.
"Jeanne did an excellent race all week and held off the challengers in the time trial," Blijlevens said. "We have seen throughout the season that she can reach a high level, and this performance just confirms that. We will see a lot from Jeanne in the future."
Another rider with good prospects for the future is Sofia Bertizzolo (Astana Women's Team). Finishing third in the U23 classification at the Boels Ladies Tour, the 21-year-old Italian was easy to spot in the jersey of the best U23 rider in the UCI Women's WorldTour. She's made this light blue jersey her trademark during the 2018 season, moving into the lead after the Ronde van Drenthe in March and not relinquishing it after that.
With only two more events on the calendar, Bertizzolo now has an unassailable lead and is certain of winning the prestigious ranking, following in the footsteps of previous winners Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig and Katarzyna Niewiadoma who have since become household names of the sport.