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European Championships: Van Vleuten wins elite women's road race title

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PLOUAY FRANCE AUGUST 27 Arrival Annemiek Van Vleuten of The Netherlands Celebration Elisa Longo Borghini of Italy during the 26th UEC Road European Championships 2020 Womens Elite Road Race a 1092km race from Plouay to Plouay GrandPrixPlouay GPPlouay on August 27 2020 in Plouay France Photo by Luc ClaessenGetty Images

Annemiek Van Vleuten of The Netherlands wins 109.2km Women's Elite Road Race (Image credit: Getty Images Sport)
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PLOUAY FRANCE AUGUST 27 Arrival Annemiek Van Vleuten of The Netherlands Celebration Elisa Longo Borghini of Italy during the 26th UEC Road European Championships 2020 Womens Elite Road Race a 1092km race from Plouay to Plouay GrandPrixPlouay GPPlouay on August 27 2020 in Plouay France Photo by Luc ClaessenGetty Images

Annemiek Van Vleuten of The Netherlands crosses finish ahead of Elisa Longo Borghini of Italy (Image credit: Getty Images Sport)
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PLOUAY FRANCE AUGUST 27 Podium Annemiek Van Vleuten of The Netherlands European Champion Jersey Gold medal Celebration during the 26th UEC Road European Championships 2020 Womens Elite Road Race a 1092km race from Plouay to Plouay GrandPrixPlouay GPPlouay on August 27 2020 in Plouay France Photo by Luc ClaessenGetty Images

Annemiek Van Vleuten of The Netherlands celebrates capturing European Elite Women's Champion Jersey and Gold meda (Image credit: Getty Images Sport)
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PLOUAY FRANCE AUGUST 27 Podium Elisa Longo Borghini of Italy Silver medal Annemiek Van Vleuten of The Netherlands European Champion Jersey Gold medal Katarzyna Niewiadoma of Poland Bronze medal Celebration Flowers during the 26th UEC Road European Championships 2020 Womens Elite Road Race a 1092km race from Plouay to Plouay GrandPrixPlouay GPPlouay on August 27 2020 in Plouay France Photo by Luc ClaessenGetty Images

Podium for Elite Women: Elisa Longo Borghini of Italy Silver medal, Annemiek Van Vleuten of The Netherlands European Champion Jersey Gold medal, Katarzyna Niewiadoma of Poland Bronze medal (Image credit: Getty Images Sport)
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PLOUAY FRANCE AUGUST 27 Podium Elisa Longo Borghini of Italy Silver medal Annemiek Van Vleuten of The Netherlands European Champion Jersey Gold medal Katarzyna Niewiadoma of Poland Bronze medal Celebration Flowers during the 26th UEC Road European Championships 2020 Womens Elite Road Race a 1092km race from Plouay to Plouay GrandPrixPlouay GPPlouay on August 27 2020 in Plouay France Photo by Luc ClaessenGetty Images

Podium for Elite Women: Elisa Longo Borghini of Italy Silver medal, Annemiek Van Vleuten of The Netherlands European Champion Jersey Gold medal, Katarzyna Niewiadoma of Poland Bronze medal (Image credit: Getty Images Sport)
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PLOUAY FRANCE AUGUST 27 Arrival Katarzyna Niewiadoma of Poland Chantal Van Den Broek Blaak of The Netherlands during the 26th UEC Road European Championships 2020 Womens Elite Road Race a 1092km race from Plouay to Plouay GrandPrixPlouay GPPlouay on August 27 2020 in Plouay France Photo by Luc ClaessenGetty Images

Katarzyna Niewiadoma of Poland takes bronze just ahead of Chantal Van Den Broek - Blaak of The Netherlands (Image credit: Getty Images Sport)
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PLOUAY FRANCE AUGUST 27 Arrival Chantal Van Den Broek Blaak of The Netherlands during the 26th UEC Road European Championships 2020 Womens Elite Road Race a 1092km race from Plouay to Plouay GrandPrixPlouay GPPlouay on August 27 2020 in Plouay France Photo by Luc ClaessenGetty Images

Chantal Van Den Broek - Blaak of The Netherlands finishes fourth in Women's Elite Road Race (Image credit: Getty Images Sport)
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PLOUAY FRANCE AUGUST 27 Annemiek Van Vleuten of The Netherlands during the 26th UEC Road European Championships 2020 Womens Elite Road Race a 1092km race from Plouay to Plouay GrandPrixPlouay GPPlouay on August 27 2020 in Plouay France Photo by Luc ClaessenGetty Images

Annemiek Van Vleuten of The Netherlands wins Elite Women's RR title UEC Road European Championships 2020, (Image credit: Getty Images Sport)
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PLOUAY FRANCE AUGUST 27 Ursa Pintar of Slovenia during the 26th UEC Road European Championships 2020 Womens Elite Road Race a 1092km race from Plouay to Plouay GrandPrixPlouay GPPlouay on August 27 2020 in Plouay France Photo by Luc ClaessenGetty Images

Ursa Pintar of Slovenia during the UEC Road European Championships 2020, Women's Elite Road Race (Image credit: Getty Images Sport)
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PLOUAY FRANCE AUGUST 27 Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig of Denmark Chantal Van Den Broek Blaak of The Netherlands during the 26th UEC Road European Championships 2020 Womens Elite Road Race a 1092km race from Plouay to Plouay GrandPrixPlouay GPPlouay on August 27 2020 in Plouay France Photo by Luc ClaessenGetty Images

Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig of Denmark and Chantal Van Den Broek - Blaak of The Netherlands in road race Thursdaay (Image credit: Getty Images Sport)
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PLOUAY FRANCE AUGUST 27 Sanne Cant of Belgium Julie Van De Velde of Belgium Sheyla Gutierrez Ruiz of Spain during the 26th UEC Road European Championships 2020 Womens Elite Road Race a 1092km race from Plouay to Plouay GrandPrixPlouay GPPlouay on August 27 2020 in Plouay France Photo by Luc ClaessenGetty Images

Belgian team led by Sanne Cant and Julie Van De Velde (Image credit: Getty Images Sport)
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PLOUAY FRANCE AUGUST 27 Lotte Kopecky of Belgium Anna Van Der Breggen of The Netherlands Elena Cecchini of Italy Lisa Brennauer of Germany Demi Vollering of The Netherlands during the 26th UEC Road European Championships 2020 Womens Elite Road Race a 1092km race from Plouay to Plouay GrandPrixPlouay GPPlouay on August 27 2020 in Plouay France Photo by Luc ClaessenGetty Images

Anna Van Der Breggen of The Netherlands, Elena Cecchini of Italy, Lisa Brennauer of Germany, Demi Vollering of The Netherlands on course in Plouay (Image credit: Getty Images Sport)
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PLOUAY FRANCE AUGUST 27 Vita Heine of Norway Chantal Van Den Broek Blaak of The Netherlands during the 26th UEC Road European Championships 2020 Womens Elite Road Race a 1092km race from Plouay to Plouay GrandPrixPlouay GPPlouay on August 27 2020 in Plouay France Photo by Luc ClaessenGetty Images

Vita Heine of Norway and Chantal Van Den Broek - Blaak of The Netherlands during the 26th UEC Road European Championships 2020, Women's Elite Road Race (Image credit: Getty Images Sport)
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PLOUAY FRANCE AUGUST 27 Lisa Klein of Germany Lisa Brennauer of Germany Kathrin Hammes of Germany Trixi Worrack of Germany Amy Pieters of The Netherlands Elisabeth DeignanArmitstead of United Kingdom during the 26th UEC Road European Championships 2020 Womens Elite Road Race a 1092km race from Plouay to Plouay GrandPrixPlouay GPPlouay on August 27 2020 in Plouay France Photo by Luc ClaessenGetty Images

wet peloton in Plouay for UEC Road European Championships 2020, Women's Elite Road Race (Image credit: Getty Images Sport)
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PLOUAY FRANCE AUGUST 27 Marianne Vos of The Netherlands Anna Van Der Breggen of The Netherlands Annemiek Van Vleuten of The Netherlands Peloton during the 26th UEC Road European Championships 2020 Womens Elite Road Race a 1092km race from Plouay to Plouay GrandPrixPlouay GPPlouay on August 27 2020 in Plouay France Photo by Luc ClaessenGetty Images

Marianne Vos of The Netherlands, Anna Van Der Breggen of The Netherlands, Annemiek Van Vleuten of The Netherlands in peloton (Image credit: Getty Images Sport)
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2020 European Championships elite women's road race

2020 European Championships elite women's road race (Image credit: Getty Images)
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(Image credit: Getty Images)
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2020 European Championships elite women's road race

2020 European Championships elite women's road race (Image credit: Getty Images)
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Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig (Denmark) at the 2020 European Championships elite women's road race

Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig (Denmark) at the 2020 European Championships elite women's road race (Image credit: Getty Images)
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Annemiek van Vleuten (Netherlands) at the 2020 European Championships elite women's road race

Annemiek van Vleuten (Netherlands) at the 2020 European Championships elite women's road race (Image credit: Getty Images)

Annemiek van Vleuten (Netherlands) took a thrilling victory in the elite women's road race at the UEC European Championships in Plouay. The road race world champion started a long-range sprint on the uphill drag to the finish line to take the win ahead of breakaway companion Elisa Longo Borghini (Italy). Kasia Niewiadoma (Poland) and Chantal van den Broek-Blaak (Netherlands), who were distanced from the decisive breakaway on the final climb, finished third and fourth, respectively.

"Thanks to the Dutch squad because we lined up with a dream team," said Van Vleuten, who has not raced a European Championships during her career prior to her victory in Plouay. "We had eight super-strong girls and we decided that it was in our advantage to make the race really hard. Between myself and Anna van der Breggen, it was both our jobs to make the race super hard to set something up for the other girls. I was so proud to race together with my team and I am so proud to do this together."

The decisive four-rider breakaway of Van Vleuten and Van den Broek-Blaak, and Niewiadoma and Longo Borghini, contested the final two laps of the women's 109.2km circuit race together. 

There were several tactics at play between the quartet with the two Dutch riders playing their cards with Van den Broek-Blaak for a potential breakaway sprint and Van Vleuten for an attack over the punchy climbs. 

Longo Borghini and Niewiadoma, without teammates from their respective nations, worked together on the ascents to try and drop Van den Broek-Blaak from the group. They were successful on several of the climbs but the former world champion manage to claw her way back to the group on the flatter sections of the circuit.

Van Vleuten led the quartet into the final climb of the race, Cote du Pont-Neuf, located just 2km from the finish line. Longo Borghini was the first to attack at the bottom of the climb but her move was quickly countered by Van Vleuten. 

The Italian managed to latch on to Van Vleuten's wheel as she passed, and the pair crested the climb with a small gap over a distanced Niewiadoma and an even further distanced Van den Broek-Blaak.

Van Vleuten initially refused to pull through knowing her teammate Van den Broek-Blaak, the strongest sprinter of the four riders, was only handful of seconds behind. However, Longo Borghini pulled the leading pair through the final kilometre of the race and into a two-up sprint.

Van Vleuten launched her sprint at the bottom of the uphill drag to the line, and while Longo Borghini responded in a fierce chase, it was not enough to catch Van Vleuten at the finish line.

How it unfolded

Many of the elite women’s field toed the start line for the second time this week after already competing in the Women’s WorldTour GP de Plouay on Tuesday won by Lizzie Deignan (Trek-Segafredo). At the European Championships, however, this time they were competing with the respective national teams.

The women competed across a 13.6km circuit that included three climbs; Cote du Lezot, which boasted pitched of 19 per cent at the start of the climb, Montee de Lann Payot and the Cote du Pont-Neuf located just 2km from the finish line in Plouay. The women completed eight laps for a total of 109.2km

A breakaway of 11 riders cleared the field during opening laps of the race but that swelled to a larger group of 23 riders at the midway point of the race. 

The front group included Elise Chabbey and Marlen Reusser (Switzerland), Soraya Paladin, Marta Cavalli, Elena Cecchini and Elisa Longo Borghini (Italy), Hannah Barnes and Lizzie Deignan (Great Britain), Audrey Cordon-Ragot (France), Kasia Niewiadoma (Poland), Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig (Denmark), Lotte Kopecky (Belgium), Emilia Fahlin (Sweden), and Lisa Brennauer (Germany). The move also included seven Dutch teammates with Annemiek van Vleuten, Ellen van Dijk, Chantal van den Broek-Blaak, Marianne Vos, Demi Vollering, Amy Pieters, and Anna van der Breggen.

A crash with 38km to go in the front group involved Deignan, Uttrup Ludwig, Brennauer, Reusser and Chabbey. Almost simultaneously, Vos launched an attack on a short climb that was quickly countered by Van Vleuten. Vos sat up and Van Vleuten continued to forge clear with Longo Borghini and Niewiadoma, and the trio held a 15-second lead.

Uttrup Ludwig and Brennauer regained contact with the chase group and the Dane did much of the pace-setting to try and close the gap to the newly-formed breakaway. She proceeded to launch an attack straight off the front of the group to try and bridge across to the move but the remaining Dutch riders weren’t happy with that and reeled her back in.

Uttrup Ludwig didn’t give up and kept the pace high in hopes of managing the time gap to Van Vleuten, Longo Borghini and Niewiadoma. She attacked again on the Cote du Lezot but was followed by Van Dijk, Pieters, and Cordon-Ragot.

Up the road, Van Vleuten, Longo Borghini and Niewiadoma worked well together, at first, taking even turns to keep their lead. However, they were eventually joined by Van den Broek-Blaak. The addition of a second Dutch rider and a stronger sprinter to the mix almost immediately changed the dynamics of the group. 

Van Vleuten moved to the front of the breakaway to take control of the pacesetting over the Cote du Pont-Neuf. She was followed by Longo Borghini and Niewiadoma, while Van den Broek-Blaak sat on the back on the move.

The gap increased to over one minute as the chase group spread wide across the road and the remaining Dutch riders neutralised any additional attacks. 

On the last lap, Longo Borghini attacked on the Cote du Lezot and gained a small gap as Van Vleuten jumped to close the gap with Niewiadoma on her wheel. The move distanced Van den Broek-Blaak from contention.

Over the top of the climb, Niewiadoma followed through and picked up the speed to make sure that Van den Broek-Blaak couldn’t reconnect with the breakaway. 

Longo Borghini and Niewiadoma kept the pressure on but Van Vleuten then made a strong attack over the penultimate climb of the Montee de Lann Payot, with 9km to go, and opened a sizable lead. 

Longo Borghini managed to close the gap to the world champion with 7km to go. Twelve seconds back, Van den Broek-Blaak reconnected with Niewiadoma in what looked like a race for the final spot on the podium. However, Niewiadoma managed to close the gap to the two leaders with Van den Broek-Blaak on her wheel, and the four-rider breakaway reunited ahead of the final climb.

Van Vleuten and Longo Borghini took their turns attacking over the Cote du Pont-Neuf and gained a small, winning, gap over a chasing Niewiadoma and Van den Broek-Blaak. Longo Borgini kept the pressure on through the final kilometre but Van Vleuten got the better of her in the final two-up sprint.

Provisional Results
Pos.Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Annemiek van Vleuten (Netherlands) 2:50:46
2Elisa Longo Borghini (Italy)
3Katarzyna Niewiadoma (Poland) 0:00:05
4Chantal van den Broek-Blaak (Netherlands)
5Audrey Cordon-Ragot (France) 0:02:29
6Lisa Brennauer (Germany) 0:03:27
7Lotte Kopecky (Belgium)
8Marianne Vos (Netherlands)
9Elena Cecchini (Italy)
10Amy Pieters (Netherlands)
11Emilia Fahlin (Sweden)
12Christine Majerus (Luxembourg)
13Marta Lach (Poland)
14Elise Chabbey (Switzerland)
15Marlen Reusser (Switzerland)
16Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig (Denmark)
17Ellen van Dijk (Netherlands)
18Marta Cavalli (Italy)
19Demi Vollering (Netherlands)
20Hannah Barnes (Great Britain)
21Anna van der Breggen (Netherlands) 0:03:32
22Soraya Paladin (Italy) 0:03:36
23Eugenia Bujak (Slovenia) 0:07:34
24Ane Santesteban (Spain)
25Aude Biannic (France) 0:07:39
26Valeriya Kononenko (Ukraine) 0:09:14
27Maria Giulia Confalonieri (Italy) 0:11:49
28Alicia González (Spain)
29Susanne Andersen (Norway)
30Jesse Vandenbulcke (Belgium)
31Amalie Dideriksen (Denmark)
32Monika Brzezna (Poland)
33Rasa Leleivytė (Lithuania)
34Olena Sharga (Ukraine)
35Valerie Demey (Belgium)
36Julie Leth (Denmark)
37Hanna Nilsson (Sweden)
38Eugénie Duval (France)
39Katia Ragusa (Italy)
40Nikola Nosková (Czech Republic)
41Mavi García (Spain)
42Jasinska Małgorzata (Poland)
43Vita Heine (Norway)
44Alice Barnes (Great Britain)
45Melanie Maurer (Switzerland)
46Gladys Verhulst (France)
47Birgitte Krogsgaard (Denmark)
48Clara Koppenburg (Germany)
49Katrine Aalerud (Norway)
50Tatiana Guderzo (Italy) 0:11:53
51Ingrid Lorvik (Norway) 0:13:29

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