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Annemiek van Vleuten wins Women's Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race

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Annemiek van Vleuten (Orica-Scott) celebrates her Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race victory

Annemiek van Vleuten (Orica-Scott) celebrates her Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race victory (Image credit: Tim de Waele/TDWSport.com)
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Amanda Spratt (Orica-Scott) walking to sign on

Amanda Spratt (Orica-Scott) walking to sign on (Image credit: Tim de Waele/TDWSport.com)
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Annemiek van Vleuten was smiling all day long

Annemiek van Vleuten was smiling all day long (Image credit: Tim de Waele/TDWSport.com)
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Tiff Cromwell (Canyon-SRAM) attending sign on

Tiff Cromwell (Canyon-SRAM) attending sign on (Image credit: Tim de Waele/TDWSport.com)
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Wiggle High5's Mayuko Hagiwara was relaxed pre-race

Wiggle High5's Mayuko Hagiwara was relaxed pre-race (Image credit: Tim de Waele/TDWSport.com)
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Annemiek van Vleuten crossing onto the wrong side of the tracks

Annemiek van Vleuten crossing onto the wrong side of the tracks (Image credit: Tim de Waele/TDWSport.com)
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Annemiek van Vleuten (Orica-Scott)

Annemiek van Vleuten (Orica-Scott) (Image credit: Tim de Waele/TDWSport.com)
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Annemiek van Vleuten (Orica-Scott) with her Tag-Heuer prize

Annemiek van Vleuten (Orica-Scott) with her Tag-Heuer prize (Image credit: Tim de Waele/TDWSport.com)
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The peloton was watching any early moves

The peloton was watching any early moves (Image credit: Tim de Waele/TDWSport.com)
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Cadel Evans with Annemiek van Vleuten on the podium

Cadel Evans with Annemiek van Vleuten on the podium (Image credit: Tim de Waele/TDWSport.com)
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Kat Garfoot (Orica-Scott)

Kat Garfoot (Orica-Scott) (Image credit: Tim de Waele/TDWSport.com)
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Amanda Manly (Orica-Scott) signs on

Amanda Manly (Orica-Scott) signs on (Image credit: Tim de Waele/TDWSport.com)
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The Orica-Scott team assembled and ready for battle

The Orica-Scott team assembled and ready for battle (Image credit: Tim de Waele/TDWSport.com)
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The peloton out on the Great Ocean Road

The peloton out on the Great Ocean Road (Image credit: Tim de Waele/TDWSport.com)
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Picturesque along the Great Ocean Road for the race

Picturesque along the Great Ocean Road for the race (Image credit: Tim de Waele/TDWSport.com)
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Rider swell to the front with the chance of crosswinds

Rider swell to the front with the chance of crosswinds (Image credit: Tim de Waele/TDWSport.com)
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The women's 2017 Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race rolls out of Gellong

The women's 2017 Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race rolls out of Gellong (Image credit: Tim de Waele/TDWSport.com)
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The national anthem is sung before the start of the race

The national anthem is sung before the start of the race (Image credit: Tim de Waele/TDWSport.com)
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The peloton on the start line ready to rock'n'roll

The peloton on the start line ready to rock'n'roll (Image credit: Tim de Waele/TDWSport.com)
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Katherine Hall (UnitedHealthcare) pre-race

Katherine Hall (UnitedHealthcare) pre-race (Image credit: Tim de Waele/TDWSport.com)
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The race profile for the Orica-Scott team

The race profile for the Orica-Scott team (Image credit: Tim de Waele/TDWSport.com)
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Defending champion Amanda Spratt (Orica-Scott)

Defending champion Amanda Spratt (Orica-Scott) (Image credit: Tim de Waele/TDWSport.com)
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Annemiek van Vleuten with the winner's trophy

Annemiek van Vleuten with the winner's trophy (Image credit: Tim de Waele/TDWSport.com)
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Annemiek van Vleuten (Orica-Scott) earlier in the day

Annemiek van Vleuten (Orica-Scott) earlier in the day (Image credit: Tim de Waele/TDWSport.com)
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Ruth Winder (UnitedHealthcare)

Ruth Winder (UnitedHealthcare) (Image credit: Tim de Waele/TDWSport.com)
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Mayuko Hagiwara (Wiggle High5)

Mayuko Hagiwara (Wiggle High5) (Image credit: Tim de Waele/TDWSport.com)
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Ruth Winder (UnitedHealthcare) crosses the line in second place

Ruth Winder (UnitedHealthcare) crosses the line in second place (Image credit: Tim de Waele/TDWSport.com)
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Annemiek van Vleuten (Orica-Scott) takes it all in

Annemiek van Vleuten (Orica-Scott) takes it all in (Image credit: Tim de Waele/TDWSport.com)
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Annemiek van Vleuten (Orica-Scott) looks back before celebrating

Annemiek van Vleuten (Orica-Scott) looks back before celebrating (Image credit: Tim de Waele/TDWSport.com)
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Annemiek van Vleuten (Orica-Scott) opens the gap in the final 100 metres

Annemiek van Vleuten (Orica-Scott) opens the gap in the final 100 metres (Image credit: Tim de Waele/TDWSport.com)
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Annemiek van Vleuten (Orica-Scott) was awarded a TAG Heuer watch

Annemiek van Vleuten (Orica-Scott) was awarded a TAG Heuer watch (Image credit: Tim de Waele/TDWSport.com)
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Annemiek van Vleuten (Orica-Scott) celebrates her first win of 2017

Annemiek van Vleuten (Orica-Scott) celebrates her first win of 2017 (Image credit: Tim de Waele/TDWSport.com)
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Cadel Evans was on hand for the podium celebrations

Cadel Evans was on hand for the podium celebrations (Image credit: Tim de Waele/TDWSport.com)
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Annemiek van Vleuten (Orica-Scott) on the podium

Annemiek van Vleuten (Orica-Scott) on the podium (Image credit: Tim de Waele/TDWSport.com)
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Fans try and catch a glimpse of the backstage going ons

Fans try and catch a glimpse of the backstage going ons (Image credit: Tim de Waele/TDWSport.com)
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QOM winner Ruth Winder of UntitedHealthcare

QOM winner Ruth Winder of UntitedHealthcare (Image credit: Tim de Waele/TDWSport.com)
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Third place finisher Mayuko Hagiwara (Wiggle High5) with Robbie McEwen

Third place finisher Mayuko Hagiwara (Wiggle High5) with Robbie McEwen (Image credit: Tim de Waele/TDWSport.com)
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Thumbs up from the winner Annemiek van Vleuten

Thumbs up from the winner Annemiek van Vleuten (Image credit: Tim de Waele/TDWSport.com)
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Ruth Winder is interviewed by Robbie McEwen for the host broadcaster

Ruth Winder is interviewed by Robbie McEwen for the host broadcaster (Image credit: Tim de Waele/TDWSport.com)
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It's a happy team at Orica-Scott post-victory

It's a happy team at Orica-Scott post-victory (Image credit: Tim de Waele/TDWSport.com)
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Tiff Cromwell (Canyon-SRAM)

Tiff Cromwell (Canyon-SRAM) (Image credit: Tim de Waele/TDWSport.com)
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Annemiek van Vleuten hugs it out with her Orica-Scott teammates

Annemiek van Vleuten hugs it out with her Orica-Scott teammates (Image credit: Tim de Waele/TDWSport.com)
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Annemiek van Vleuten (Orica-Scott) after finishing the race

Annemiek van Vleuten (Orica-Scott) after finishing the race (Image credit: Tim de Waele/TDWSport.com)
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Annemiek van Vleuten makes it two in a row for Orica-Scott at Cadels race

Annemiek van Vleuten makes it two in a row for Orica-Scott at Cadels race (Image credit: Tim de Waele/TDWSport.com)

Annemiek van Vleuten had a domestique's early work in her legs as she opened her sprint on Eastern Beach Road along Geelong's waterfront. The Dutchwoman was meant to work her Australian teammates, newly crowned double Australian champion Katrin Garfoot and Santos Women's Tour overall winner Amanda Spratt, at the Deakin Women's Race but was the lone Orica-Scott rider amongst a selection of five riders fighting towards the finish. Second to jump, Van Vleuten was first across the line.

"I surprised myself to be there in the final," Van Vleuten told reporters, including Cyclingnews, following podium presentations. "In Tour Down Under, I was still struggling uphill. Today I was one of the better riders uphill."

Early crosswinds and unrelenting aggression played to Van Vleuten's strengths. With only five kilometres raced, Van Vleuten launched the first attack of the day as the peloton turned toward Barwon Heads. The wind had changed direction, and Van Vleuten hoped to split or at least soften the field in the crosswinds. Although her attack didn't have the desired intent, it signalled Orica-Scott's intention.

Ten kilometres later, the Australian-registered squad in conjunction with Canyon//SRAM forced the pace in the cross-winds. The damage was swift and dramatic. Only 18 kilometres into the 113-kilometre day, three distinct groups had taken shape. Thirty riders made the front split.

"I'm a bit older, and I have a big engine," said Van Vleuten. "For me, it's really good that there were already some crosswinds, already people started to suffer. The big suffering races that are really hard, that's what I like."

Van Vleuten contested both intermediate sprints, coming second to Alé Cipollini's Romy Kasper on the first and winning the second. Combined with her position at the finish, it was enough to earn the sprint jersey. She chased down the near-constant attacks and launched a few of her own in the closing kilometres.

"I had the feeling with Katrin Garfoot and Amanda Spratt, they were supposed to be our leaders, and they didn't have a great day. When I noticed that they weren't there, and it was only me, and I had already done some work, then I felt some pressure," noted Van Vleuten. "I thought: ‘Maybe it will be up to me today. It will maybe ge hard to finish this one off, and it's really important to my team to win this one.' Then I felt a little pressure. I tried to forget about all the work I had done already in the race."

The peloton, which had regrouped following earlier splits, had tackled three of the six hills that come in quick succession in the Deakin Women's Race finale when a group of around 20 riders emerged. It was from this group that Emma Pooley, guest-riding for Holden Women's Cycling, escaped in a solo bid for glory. When Pooley had pocketed 20-seconds, race announcers began to discuss her chances, excitedly reminding viewers of Pooley's previous success in Victoria -- an individual time trial world title in Geelong in 2010.

In Pooley's wake, Van Vleuten, Janneke Ensing (Alé Cipollini) and Lucy Kennedy (High5 Dream Team) traded pulls. A mechanical took an obviously and understandably frustrated Ensing out of the chase as Ruth Winder (UnitedHealthcare) and Mayuko Hagiwara (Wiggle-High5) bridged across to Van Vleuten and Kennedy.

The quartet reached Pooley with three kilometres remaining.

"I knew that I was fastest of the group, but you feel the extra pressure so that they don't surprise you," said Van Vleuten. "With Emma Pooley it was: ‘I want to be last wheel and she wants to be last wheel. No, I want to be there.' I didn't want it to be that they would surprise."

Winder opened the sprint.

"I got caught on the front with a probably a kilometre to go and no matter how slow I went, no one really wanted to come around me," Winder told Cyclingnews. "I tried to ramp it up and go early, but Van Vleuten came around me. I just put my head down and did everything I could to jump onto her wheel to hold onto second place."

Van Vleuten said her win in Australia buoys her confidence as she heads back to Europe where she'll train at altitude in preparation for her biggest goals of the season.

"I go home tomorrow with this trophy in my backpack," said Van Vleuten. "It's awesome. It inspires me even more […] I start racing at the end of February. This gives me good confidence that I'm in a good way for spring."

Van Vleuten was quick to shut down any suggestions that a race win, this one one or any other, would help put her horrific crash at the Rio Olympics behind her.

"I don't want [memories of the crash] to disappear," said Van Vleuten. "For me, it was one of the best races of my life. I don't ever want to forget about it. The ending maybe, but I also don't want to forget the ending because that's cycling. It's horrific and awful and beautiful.

"I'm okay to talk about the crash, but not only about the crash, especially about the whole race in Rio," Van Vleuten added. "If people want to talk to me about that, about the whole race, I'm fine with that. I hope they will talk about that. It was a big race for women's cycling. It was wonderful to watch. For me, it had a bad ending, but it's good for me to show people that my shape in Rio inspired me already for next season." 

Full Results

#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Annemiek Van Vleuten (Ned) Orica Scott3:04:13
2Ruth Winder (USA) UnitedHealhtcare Pro Cycling Team
3Mayuko Hagiwara (Jpn) Wiggle High5
4Lucy Kennedy (Aus) High5 Dream Team
5Emma Pooley (GBr) Holden Women's Cycling Team
6Susanna Zorzi (Ita) Drops0:00:27
7Kirsten Wild (Ned) Cylance Pro Cycling0:00:33
8Chloe Hosking (Aus) Ale Cipollini
9Chloe Dygert (USA) Sho-Air Twenty20
10Gracie Elvin (Aus) Orica Scott
11Annette Edmondson (Aus) Wiggle High5
12Gretchen Stumhofer (USA) Sho-Air Twenty20
13Ann-Sophie Duyck (Bel) Drops
14Kylie Waterrues (Ned) Maaslandster Veris CCN
15Julie Leth (Den) Wiggle High5
16Amanda Jamieson (NZl) New Zealand National Team
17Abigail Van Twisk (GBr) Drops
18Elizabeth Williams (Aus) Hagens Berman / Supermint
19Tayler Wiles (USA) UnitedHealhtcare Pro Cycling Team
20Alexandra Manly (Aus) Orica Scott
21Annie Foreman-Mackey (Can) Sho-Air Twenty20
22Rushlee Buchanan (NZl) UnitedHealhtcare Pro Cycling Team
23Leah Thomas (USA) Sho-Air Twenty20
24Alice Barnes (GBr) Drops
25Daiva Tuslaite (Ltu) Ale Cipollini
26Georgia Catterick (NZl) New Zealand National Team
27Kate McIlroy (NZl) Specialized Women's Cycling
28Lucy Bechtel (Aus) Specialized Women's Cycling
29Grace Brown (Aus) Holden Women's Cycling Team
30Justine Barrow (Aus) Rush Women's Team
31Katharine Hall (USA) UnitedHealhtcare Pro Cycling Team
32Peta Mullens (Aus) Hagens Berman / Supermint
33Malgorzata Jasinska (Pol) Cylance Pro Cycling
34Shannon Malseed (Aus) Holden Women's Cycling Team
35Sharlotte Lucas (NZl) New Zealand National Team
36Amanda Spratt (Aus) Orica Scott0:00:37
37Romy Kasper (Ger) Ale Cipollini0:00:39
38Jenelle Crooks (Aus) Orica Scott
39Carlee Taylor (Aus) Ale Cipollini
40Danielle King (GBr) Cylance Pro Cycling
41Tiffany Cromwell (Aus) Canyon SRAM Racing0:00:49
42Rebecca Wiasak (Aus) High5 Dream Team0:01:50
43Grace Anderson (NZl) New Zealand National Team
44Nina Marie Laughlin (USA) Sho-Air Twenty20
45Jessica Pratt (Aus) High5 Dream Team
46Rebecca Womersley (GBr) Drops
47Amy Cure (Aus) Wiggle High5
48Anna Christian (GBr) Drops
49Alexis Ryan (USA) Canyon SRAM Racing
50Christel Van Loo (Ned) Maaslandster Veris CCN0:02:59
51Anna Trevisi (Ita) Ale Cipollini0:03:42
52Janneke Ensing (Ned) Ale Cipollini
53Amy Roberts (GBr) Wiggle High50:04:19
54Barbara Guarischi (Ita) Canyon SRAM Racing
55Starla Teddergreen (USA) Hagens Berman / Supermint
56Beth Ann Orton (USA) Hagens Berman / Supermint
57Lisa Brennauer (Ger) Canyon SRAM Racing
58Louisa Lobigs (Aus) Holden Women's Cycling Team
59Jessica Cerra (USA) Hagens Berman / Supermint
60Lauretta Hanson (Aus) UnitedHealhtcare Pro Cycling Team
61Rossella Ratto (Ita) Cylance Pro Cycling
62Ellen Skerritt (Aus) Rush Women's Team
63Jaime Gunning (Aus) Holden Women's Cycling Team
64Lauren Hall (USA) UnitedHealhtcare Pro Cycling Team0:04:23
65Tsubasa Makise (Jpn) Maaslandster Veris CCN0:05:41
66Jessica Lane (Aus) Maaslandster Veris CCN0:09:44
67Ella Scanlan-Bloor (Aus) Specialized Women's Cycling0:11:02
68Kristy Glover (Aus) Rush Women's Team0:11:03
69Matilda Raynolds (Aus) Rush Women's Team0:11:28
70Ivy Audrain (USA) Hagens Berman / Supermint
71Kristina Clonan (Aus) High5 Dream Team
72Ruby Livingstone (NZl) New Zealand National Team
73Erin Kinnealy (Aus) Holden Women's Cycling Team
74Grace Garner (GBr) Wiggle High5
75Sofia Arreola Navarro (Mex) Sho-Air Twenty20
76Kate Perry (Aus) Specialized Women's Cycling0:14:14
DNFMieke Kröger (Ger) Canyon SRAM Racing
DNFKatrin Garfoot (Aus) Orica Scott
DNFMarta Tagliaferro (Ita) Cylance Pro Cycling
DNFRachele Barbieri (Ita) Cylance Pro Cycling
DNFMikayla Harvey (NZl) New Zealand National Team
DNFDesiree Ehrler (Swi) Maaslandster Veris CCN
DNFAyla Rudgley (Aus) Maaslandster Veris CCN
DNFWinanda Spoor (Ned) Rush Women's Team
DNFMinda Murray (Aus) Rush Women's Team
DNFTaryn Heather (Aus) Specialized Women's Cycling
DNFSophie Mackay (Aus) Specialized Women's Cycling
DNSChloe Moran (Aus) High5 Dream Team

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