Van Vleuten claims world championship with audacious 100km solo attack


Annemiek van Vleuten (opens in new tab) gave the Netherlands its first individual gold medal of the 2019 UCI Road World Championships with an incredible 106km solo attack to win the elite women's road race.

Van Vleuten caught the peloton off-guard on the exposed Lofthouse climb and, despite a fervent chase by some pre-race favourites including Lizzie Deignan (Great Britain), she managed to carve out over a two minute lead.

Teammate and defending champion Anna van der Breggen kept the chasers in check, waiting until the last five kilometres to finally make her move and solo in for the silver medal.

Amanda Spratt (Australia), the last rider to hold onto the Dutchwoman's wheel, held on for the bronze.

Chloe Dygert Owen (USA), the elite women's time trial world champion, attempted to go clear with 30km to go, but faded on the final lap. After being passed by Van der Breggen and Spratt, she held off Elisa Longo Borghini (Italy) for fourth.

Marianne Vos led the peloton home for another top result for the Netherlands in sixth, 5:20 behind the race winner Van Vleuten.

Van Vleuten said she did not go into the race planning to ride solo for two thirds of the race, but when she had a gap she simply kept going.

"It was not actually planned, I wanted to go hard on the climb, I think that was good for our team," Van Vleuten said. 

"Then when I saw I had a gap, then my coach said ‘continue now’. It was a crazy plan. It was all a little bit crazy. I’m a little crazy. I train a lot and I think that also helped me a lot today, to be ready for such a big effort. People know I train a lot of hours on the bike and that helped me today.

"There’s so many emotions; my mother’s here and that’s special for me, my father a little bit too, because I was also wearing the earrings I had in Rio."

Van Vleuten had one glaring hole in her palmares - after winning the time trial world championships, the Giro Rosa (twice) and the Tour of Flanders - the elite road race was the one she really wanted.

Her 2019 season was hampered by a leg fracture she suffered in last year's road race, and she only had three opportunities to wear her time trial rainbow jersey - the Dutch championships, the Giro Rosa time trial and the prologue of the Boels Ladies Tour, winning all three. In 2020, she will be showing her rainbow bands far more frequently.

"It was a big win to already be the time trial world champion but on the road you can wear it so much more often," she said.

"This win has a special taste because I was so disappointed after the time trial on Tuesday. To finish it and with a 100km solo, I can’t believe it. Innsbruck last year was more my course than today and it was hard to come back from injury and I couldn’t enjoy my time trial title. Now I have time to enjoy it.

"Anna did a great job for me. Having her behind me was good, so it’s a super good podium."

How it unfolded

A cold, damp morning gave way to bright sunshine for the elite women's road race, drying out the roads for the 149.4km race. The wind was stiff enough to be a factor but not as brutal as earlier races.

The nerves led to a few minor crashes, starting with Vita Heine (Norway) in the neutral section and a rider from Colombian soon after the start.

Former world champion Lizzie Deignan was given a huge round of applause and allowed to lead the peloton through her home town of Otley.

It wasn't long before the racing started to heat up, with the Norwood Edge climb - a 2km ascent - already splitting the peloton after 13km.

Only 25-30 riders were left after the climb after Demi Vollering (Netherlands) set the pace, with her teammate Floortje Mackaij putting in the next attack to soften up the field.

Mackaij's move didn't last and there was a lull in the action as the peloton settled in for the long haul. On the next climb - the Lofthouse - there was a brisk cross-tailwind and it was here that Van Vleuten decided to make her move.

There were still 106km left, but the audacious attack caught most of the favourites off guard, and as Van Vleuten's gap opened up, the cream rose to the top with Lizzie Deignan (Great Britain) launching the chase.

Elisa Longo Borghini (Italy) scrambled across to Deignan, and soon Anna van der Breggen, Chloe Dygert Owen (USA), Amanda Spratt (Australia), Clara Koppenberg (Germany), Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig (Denmark) and Soraya Paladin (Italy) bridged to the chasers. The rest of the peloton was scattered further back, including Marianne Vos of the Netherlands.

This elite group - with the defending champion in tow - chipped away at Van Vleuten's gap, with the Dutch woman's lead down to 45 seconds after the halfway point of the race, but then indecision and in-fighting in the group let the gap go back out.

With 50km to go, Van Vleuten had two minutes on the chasers and much more on the peloton and the race looked decided. Gold would go to Van Vleuten but who would make up the podium?

Deignan pulled back attack after attack, but a dig from Dygert Owen made her lose contact with the chasers. Soon, it was only Dygert Owen, Longo Borghini, Spratt and Van der Breggen in the first chase group.

The Oak Ridge climb on the Harrogate finishing circuit with around 30km to go gave Dygert Owen the platform she needed to leap away solo. The time trial world champion pulled back a big chunk of time on Van Vleuten - bringing it down to 1:49. She suddenly looked a threat but then faded.

Van Vleuten held 2:15 on the chase as Van der Breggen and Spratt dropped Longo Borghini and set off in pursuit of Dygert Owen, bringing her within sight as they crossed the line with one lap to go.

Dygert Owen could not hold onto the pair as they came past and spent the rest of the race chasing in for fourth. Van der Breggen cracked Spratt with 5km to go and set off to take the silver medal and complete yet another extraordinary Dutch domination.


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Pos.Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Annemiek van Vleuten (Netherlands) 4:06:05
2Anna van der Breggen (Netherlands) 0:02:15
3Amanda Spratt (Australia) 0:02:28
4Chloe Dygert (United States Of America) 0:03:24
5Elisa Longo Borghini (Italy) 0:04:45
6Marianne Vos (Netherlands) 0:05:20
7Marta Bastianelli (Italy)
8Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio (South Africa)
9Lisa Brennauer (Germany)
10Coryn Rivera (United States Of America)
11Christine Majerus (Luxembourg)
12Arlenis Sierra (Cuba)
13Amalie Dideriksen (Denmark)
14Sofie de Vuyst (Belgium)
15Emilia Fahlin (Sweden)
16Alison Jackson (Canada)
17Audrey Cordon Ragot (France)
18Alena Amialiusik (Belarus)
19Amy Pieters (Netherlands)
20Paula Andrea Patino Bedoya (Colombia)
21Elise Chabbey (Switzerland)
22Anna Henderson (Great Britain)
23Katarzyna Niewiadoma (Poland)
24Elena Cecchini (Italy)
25Margarita Victo Garcia Canellas (Spain)
26Ane Santesteban Gonzalez (Spain)
27Chloe Hosking (Australia)
28Lucinda Brand (Netherlands)
29Susanne Andersen (Norway)
30Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig (Denmark)
31Elizabeth Deignan (Great Britain)
32Tatiana Guderzo (Italy)
33Floortje Mackaij (Netherlands)
34Marlen Reusser (Switzerland) 0:05:31
35Eider Merino Cortazar (Spain)
36Aude Biannic (France)
37Nikola Noskova (Czech Republic)
38Leah Thomas (United States Of America)
39Brodie Chapman (Australia)
40Katrine Aalerud (Norway) 0:05:36
41Lucy Kennedy (Australia) 0:05:38
42Sara Poidevin (Canada)
43Chantal Blaak (Netherlands)
44Tayler Wiles (United States Of America)
45Eugenia Bujak (Slovenia) 0:05:46
46Karol-ann Canuel (Canada) 0:05:51
47Elisa Balsamo (Italy) 0:05:56
48Clara Koppenburg (Germany) 0:06:25
49Lisa Klein (Germany) 0:06:43
50Soraya Paladin (Italy) 0:07:02
51Vita Heine (Norway) 0:08:49
52Anastasiia Chursina (Russian Federation) 0:08:55
53Maria Novolodskaya (Russian Federation) 0:09:02
54Tatsiana Sharakova (Belarus) 0:09:51
55Olha Shekel (Ukraine)
56Demi Vollering (Netherlands)
57Lisa Norden (Sweden) 0:09:53
58Joanna van de Winkel (South Africa)
59Ella Harris (New Zealand) 0:09:54
60Omer Shapira (Israel) 0:09:53
61Julie Leth (Denmark)
62Hannah Barnes (Great Britain)
63Alice Barnes (Great Britain)
64Malgorzata Jasinska (Poland)
65Juliette Labous (France)
66Liane Lippert (Germany)
67Ruth Winder (United States Of America)
68Pernille Mathiesen (Denmark)
69Teniel Campbell (Trinidad & Tabago) 0:12:55
70Franziska Koch (Germany)
71Katharine Hall (United States Of America)
72Anastasiya Kolesava (Belarus)
73Kelly van den Steen (Belgium)
74Lourdes Oyarbide Jimenez (Spain) 0:13:50
75Angelika Tazreiter (Austria)
76Letizia Paternoster (Italy)
77Jesse Vandenbulcke (Belgium) 0:18:08
78Jarmila Machacova (Czech Republic) 0:19:13
79Marta Lach (Poland) 0:19:55
80Nicola Juniper (Great Britain) 0:23:47
81Blanca Liliana Moreno Canchon (Colombia)
82Monika Brzezna (Poland)
83Rasa Leleivyte (Lithuania)
84Ariadna Gutierrez Arzaluz (Mexico)
85Severine Eraud (France)
86Eugenie Duval (France)
87Brenda Andrea Santoyo Perez (Mexico)
88Evita Muzic (France)
DNFTiffany Cromwell (Australia)
DNFDiana Carolina Penuela Martinez (Colombia)
DNFLouise Norman Hansen (Denmark)
DNFKathrin Hammes (Germany)
DNFJessica Allen (Australia)
DNFLauren Kitchen (Australia)
DNFLeigh ann Ganzar (United States Of America)
DNFValerie Demey (Belgium)
DNFJulie van de Velde (Belgium)
DNFMarie Soleil Blais (Canada)
DNFGillian Ellsay (Canada)
DNFGabrielle Pilote-fortin (Canada)
DNFAurela Nerlo (Poland)
DNFAnna Plichta (Poland)
DNFKatarzyna Wilkos (Poland)
DNFElizabeth Banks (Great Britain)
DNFAlicia Gonzalez Blanco (Spain)
DNFSheyla Gutierrez Ruiz (Spain)
DNFTiffany Keep (South Africa)
DNFMaroesjka Matthee (South Africa)
DNFStine Borgli (Norway)
DNFIngvild Gaskjenn (Norway)
DNFJeydy Pradera Bernal (Cuba)
DNFElise Maes (Luxembourg)
DNFAnet Barrera Esparza (Mexico)
DNFAndrea Ramirez Fregoso (Mexico)
DNFClara Lundmark (Sweden)
DNFHanna Nilsson (Sweden)
DNFSara Penton (Sweden)
DNFUrska Pintar (Slovenia)
DNFUrska Zigart (Slovenia)
DNFHiromi Kaneko (Japan)
DNFEri Yonamine (Japan)
DNFValeriya Kononenko (Ukraine)
DNFElizaveta Oshurkova (Russian Federation)
DNFDesiet Kidane (Eritrea)
DNFMikayla Harvey (New Zealand)
DNFRotem Gafinovitz (Israel)
DNFMaria Jose Vargas Barrientos (Costa Rica)
DNFAlexi Costa (Trinidad & Tabago)
DNFKathrin Schweinberger (Austria)
DNFDenisse Ahumada Riquelme (Chile)
DNFFlavia Maria de Oliveira Paparella (Brazil)
DNFAna Paula Polegatch (Brazil)
DNFTereza Neumanova (Czech Republic)
DNFMaja Perinovic (Croatia)
DNFMia Radotic (Croatia)
DNFVarvara Fasoi (Greece)
DNFAlice Sharpe (Ireland)
DNFAlzbeta Bacikova (Slovakia)
DNFTereza Medvedova (Slovakia)
DNFNatalya Saifutdinova (Kazakhstan)
DNFMakhabbat Umutzhanova (Kazakhstan)
DNFMaria Martins (Portugal)
DNFAgusta Edda Bjornsdottir (Iceland)
DNFSkye Davidson (Zimbabwe)
DNFMae Lang (Estonia)
DNFFabiana Granizal (Uruguay)
DNFFernanda Yapura (Argentina)
DNFAgua Marina Espinola (Paraguay)
DNFNoura Alomairi (Kuwait)
DNFLatefa Alyaseen (Kuwait)
DNFHoi ian Au (Macao, China)
DNSAnne-Sophie Harsch (Luxembourg)

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