Van Vleuten defends her Strade Bianche title

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Annemiek van Vleuten (Mitchelton-Scott) has added yet another victory to her tally for 2020.

The reigning world road champ lived up to her status as the clear favorite at Strade Bianche on Saturday, powering to her second straight win there in what is her fifth victory in five racing appearances so far this season.

Van Vleuten hit the line in Siena 22 seconds ahead of Mavi García (Alé BTC Ljubljana), with Leah Thomas (Paule Ka) rounding out the day’s podium in third.

“It could have been hard to stay motivated during the COVID lockdown but I kept going and had a lot of fun riding my bike in these times,” van Vleuten said after her win.

“It actually gave me a lot of energy. I felt that today, but winning is never easy, especially in these races.”

The first day of WorldTour racing since March got off to a rocky start for a handful of riders. Thieves broke into the Trek-Segafredo team vehicle overnight and stole six bikes, leaving the team to ride on spares, while Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio (CCC-Liv) and Ella Harris (Canyon-Sram) both missed the start altogether after crashing during their pre-race rides.

For those who did make the start, it was a fast and hectic first half of the race, with intermittent attacks and the dusty gravel roads for which the race is named wearing away at the pack and leading to a few splits and regroupings over the course of the first hour and half. Things began to heat up with a little under 50 kilometers to go, when a small selection of around 10 riders (which did not initially include van Vleuten) surged off the front, and then García powered clear to push on solo.

Despite attempts by those in the pursuing group to close the gap, García held on solo through the last two gravel sectors, but by that point van Vleuten had caught up to the chasers. On the final gravel sector of Le Tolfe, van Vleuten dropped the other chasers and pressed on alone in pursuit of García.

With around 10 kilometers to go, van Vleuten made the catch.

The pair then rode the final few kilometers into Siena together before battling it out on the uphill finish into the Piazza del Campo. Garcia held on until about 400 meters to go, when van Vleuten put in a turn of speed that she could not match, dropping the former Spanish road champion to round the final few corners alone.

As she hit the line, Van Vleuten celebrated her fifth straight win on the year, and sixth straight going back to last season’s Worlds road race.

Top 10

1 VAN VLEUTEN Annemiek (Mitchelton-Scott) 4:03:54
2 GARCIA Mavi (Alé BTC Ljubljana) 0:22
3 THOMAS Leah (Équipe Paule Ka) 1:53
4 VAN DER BREGGEN Anna (Boels – Dolmans Cycling Team) 2:05
5 LONGO BORGHINI Elisa (Trek-Segafredo Women) 2:11
6 VOS Marianne (CCC – Liv) 2:26
7 LUDWIG Cecilie Uttrup (FDJ Nouvelle Aquitaine Futuroscope) 2:40
8 BRENNAUER Lisa (Ceratizit-WNT Pro Cycling) 3:26
9 CANUEL Karol-Ann (Boels – Dolmans Cycling Team) 4:20
10 BASTIANELLI Marta (Alé BTC Ljubljana) 5:20

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