Van Vleuten Boels over the com­pe­ti­tion

Procycling - - DEBRIEF -

The 2018 Boels Ladies Tour started in Arn­hem, a city An­ne­miek van Vleuten de­scribed as her “back yard”. The 36-year-old world time trial cham­pion lives in Wa­genin­gen, a few kilo­me­tres to the west, just north of the Rhine. Back yard it may be but Van Vleuten is not in need of home ad­van­tage at the mo­ment – es­pe­cially in time tri­als. Prior to the Boels Ladies Tour pro­logue, the Dutch­woman won three of the four TTs she started this year. She also won the Giro Rosa in em­phatic style.

In Arn­hem, home ad­van­tage and fact the rid­ers were faced with a short 3.3km pro­logue course didn’t stop Van Vleuten from dili­gently pre­par­ing, in the hope of max­imis­ing any ad­van­tage she could over her ri­vals. “I rode the course in re­con­nais­sance un­til I was not al­lowed to any more, try­ing to find the per­fect line,” Van Vleuten said af­ter the stage.

The re­sult was an im­prove­ment on her TT strike rate, as she took an­other vic­tory, this time by a sig­nif­i­cant seven sec­onds over her com­pa­triot Anna van der Breggen. Ellen van Dijk was third.

The fol­low­ing day’s road stage started in Ni­jmegen, just south of the Rhine and also within the bounds of Van Vleuten’s stamp­ing ground. It was based on seven laps of a fairly hard cir­cuit around the vil­lage of Berg en Dal, a name which gives a flavour of the up-and-down coun­try­side of the Lim­burgGelder­land bor­der­land. On the last as­cent of the steep and nar­row climb of Oude Holleweg, Van der Breggen, Van Vleuten and Elisa Longo Borgh­ini carved out a slim ad­van­tage. It fiz­zled out when Van der Breggen stopped con­tribut­ing.

Soon af­ter, Van Vleuten at­tacked again and this time, with­out com­pany, her es­cape was em­phatic. Van der Breggen tried to fol­low but the mo­ment had passed and she merely suc­ceeded in drag­ging Longo Borgh­ini, Van Dijk and Amanda Spratt – Van Vleuten’s team-mate, and there­fore dead weight, into a fruit­less pur­suit. The cur­rent state of Van Vleuten’s form and men­tal im­per­vi­ous­ness was shown when she went the wrong way at a road fork, but still got back on the course be­fore her pur­suers, nurs­ing a 12sec­ond ad­van­tage to the line.

And so went the 2018 gen­eral clas­si­fi­ca­tion. Stages 2 and 3 ended in sprints that were won by the 2016 world cham­pion Amalie Diderik­sen. On stage 4, the nom­i­nal queen stage in Lim­burg, Diderik­sen turned loyal team-mate and played a role in ham­per­ing the late chase of Chan­tal Blaak, who soloed to her fifth win of the sea­son and the last be­fore she tries to de­fend her rain­bow jersey in Inns­bruck a few weeks later.

On the eve of the clos­ing 18.6km time trial, Van Vleuten was in firm con­trol. She had a 22-se­cond lead over Sun­web’s Lucinda Brand and al­most 30 sec­onds on BTC City Ljubl­jana’s Eu­ge­nia Bu­jak. How­ever, Brand crashed on one of the cor­ners and was forced to con­tinue on her road bike, and Bu­jak was 1:40 slower

than Van Vleuten, whose win­ning speed was 46.5km/ h. In place of Brand and Bu­jak, Van der Breggen and Van Dijk moved into se­cond and third place re­spec­tively on the podium.

They say the time trial is the race of truth and the truth is that as Van Vleuten headed into the Worlds week, she was in supreme form, and the new leader of the Women’s World Tour.

“It was a good dress re­hearsal for the World Cham­pi­onships,” an im­pe­ri­ous­look­ing Van Vleuten said.

Diderik­sen gets a hug from Van der Breggen af­ter win­ning stage 3

Boels- Dol­mans had to watch as Van Vleuten won the race for Mitchel­ton-Scott

Van Vleuten wins the Boels Tour GC for the se­cond year in a row, as she ramps up for the Worlds

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