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Annemiek van Vleuten attacked on the final gravel section of Strade Bianche and rode into Siena alone to take her first victory since a serious knee injury at the world championships last year.
Annika Langvad (Boels Dolmans) crossed the line in second, 37 seconds back, and Katarzyna Niewiadoma (Canyon-SRAM) finished third at 40 seconds.
As the race hit its final sector of white gravel road, the front group was down to just 11, with van Vlueten among them. She attacked on the steepest part of that sector, and with a disorganised chase behind quickly built up a lead of 30 seconds.
“I just waited for a good moment (to attack), there was only one teammate with me, only Lucy Kennedy, and it was really good for us to be there together but we were a bit outnumbered,” van Vleuten said. “We were only two in a big group so we had to poker a bit, then I thought I had to put the hammer down on the uphill.”
Van Vleuten suffered a serious knee injury at worlds last year, and delaying the start of her season.
“I thought it was maybe a bit too early because I’ve just had 10 weeks of training after I broke my knee at the world championships. But I worked very, very hard because the race was on my wish list to win one time, it’s one of my favourite races.”