Van Vleuten: Road race is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity

Annemiek van Vleuten has called Saturday’s UCI Road World Championships road race a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. The 35-year-old Dutchwoman retained her time trial world title and is one of the favourites to wear the rainbow jersey on Saturday afternoon.

If she were to win the race, she would be only the second woman to take both elite titles at the World Championships, though she says she’s not thinking about records at the moment. Jeannie Longo is the only other rider to have done the double when she won both in Duitama, Colombia in 1995. Van Vleuten was among the favourites for last year’s road race, but this year’s offering in Innsbruck is a much more clear-cut chance.

“It suits me better, so that also makes me a bit more nervous. It’s almost a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to race the World Championships on such a climbing course. I really look forward to tomorrow,” Van Vleuten said on the eve of the race.

“I was good in the spring, but from May on I was on another level, until now. Actually, I felt like I was still growing during the season, so I feel as if I was slightly better than I was at the Giro d’Italia. The season is over tomorrow, I can’t believe it. It went so fast and I really enjoyed it. I had some epic, nice results. It will take some time to enjoy it after tomorrow.”

"There’s also some dark horses like Jolanda Neff. I’m really curious what she’ll do and people without a country. Kasia Niewiadoma is also really strong and the course suits her really well. Longo Borghini has a really strong team and is always good in World Championships, so I’m curious.”

For a full rundown of Cyclingnews' top 10 contenders for the rainbow jersey, hit play on the video below.

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