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Strade Bianche: Van Vleuten takes victory after late pursuit

World champion bridges from over three minutes back to catch and deny lone breakaway rider Garcia.

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Annemiek van Vleuten won Strade Bianche Saturday, continuing her 100 percent record for 2020.

The Mitchelton-Scott rider won after launching from the peloton on a dusty day under the scorching Tuscan sun to hoover up a group chasing race-leader Mavi Garcia (Alé BTC Ljubljana). Having bridged to the chase group, van Vleuten immediately went off in pursuit of Garcia, evaporating a three-minute gap in around 10 kilometers.

After the pair cat-and-moused their way through the outskirts of Siena, Garcia succumbed to the sense of the inevitable and fell away from an acceleration from the world champion at the bottom of the steep final climb into the city, leaving van Vleuten to win by 22 seconds.

Leah Thomas (Équipe Paule Ka) followed them into the iconic Piazza del Campo to take third.

Van Vleuten’s win marks her fifth from five races in 2020.

“There were a lot of emotions,” Van Vleuten said. “The Piazza del Campo is the most beautiful finish for me to win. A lot of emotions. I didn’t think I would catch Mavi Garcia and I believe the whole scenario has made it a very spectacular race.”

All eyes were on van Vleuten at the start of the race after the world champion rampaged through the trio of Spanish races late July, and the world champion didn’t disappoint. However, the win didn’t come from a typical long solo breakaway, but instead in a pursuit race.

Garcia had made her breakaway move with around 50 kilometers to go, going clear of a group of 10 riders from 10 different teams that included van Vleuten’s teammate Amanda Spratt, Lisa Brennauer (WNT), Ellen van Dijk  (Trek-Segafredo), Karol-Ann Canuel (Boels-Dolmans), Soraya Paladin (CCC-Liv) and Thomas.

With the chase of Garcia malfunctioning and failing to work together, the Spaniard soon gained around three minutes of an advantage and was looking likely to hold her pursuers at bay.

Meanwhile, van Vleuten had gone clear from the peloton behind and launched a solo chase of the bunch floundering behind Garcia. With 15 kilometers to go, the Dutchwoman made contact and immediately upped the pace, with only Brennauer, Canuel and Thomas able to hang on. With Spratt and a handful of others dropped from the group, van Vleuten was free to fly solo.

“I thought I came here for nothing,” she said. “My teammate [Spratt] was doing well, so I cannot make my own attack. Suddenly, the girls were away, and I had to go full in the attack.”

The world champion took the race into her own hands as the remaining chase trio of Canuel, Thomas and Brennauer sat on her wheel. She accelerated away and settled into her trademark time trial mode, slashing Garcia’s gap in a matter of kilometers.

Garcia was caught by van Vleuten with five kilometers to go before doggedly hanging on to her wheel as they raced through the fringes of Siena.

Van Vleuten’s final acceleration at the bottom of the final climb proved unstoppable, just as the 37-year-old has been all season. She came into the deserted town square alone, covered in dust, and collapsed from her bike after celebrating.

There had been some drama before the race even started, with Trek-Segafredo confirming their race bikes had been stolen overnight, leaving them to use their spare machines or those of their directors.

It was also confirmed that Ashleigh Moolman Pasio (CCC-Liv), Clara Koppenberg (Équipe Paule Ka) and Ella Harris (Canyon-SRAM) both all withdrawn from the race due to separate training crashes in the days prior to the race. Moolman Pasio needed 60 stitches for her injuries, while Harris broke her hip.

Results will be available once stage has completed.

Laura Tomasi, Top Girls Fassa Bortolo
Arianna Fidanza, Lotto Soudal Ladies
Niamh Fisher-black, Équipe Paule Ka
Francesca Pisciali, Eurotarget – Bianchi – Vittoria
Carmela Cipriani, Aromitalia Vaiano
Jelena Erić, Movistar Team
Romy Kasper, Parkhotel Valkenburg
Christine Majerus, Boels – Dolmans Cycling Team
Abby-Mae Parkinson, Lotto Soudal Ladies
Leah Kirchmann, Team Sunweb
Debora Silvestri, Top Girls Fassa Bortolo
Marketa Hajkova, Bepink
Karlijn Swinkels, Parkhotel Valkenburg
Sarah Rijkes, Ceratizit-WNT Pro Cycling
Coryn Rivera, Team Sunweb
Ruth Winder, Trek-Segafredo Women
Arianna Sessi, Eurotarget – Bianchi – Vittoria
Lone Meertens, Lotto Soudal Ladies
Angelica Brogi, Aromitalia Vaiano
Eva Buurman, Boels – Dolmans Cycling Team
Anna Potokina, Servetto – Piumate – Beltrami TSA
Lara Krähemann, Cogeas – Mettler Pro Cycling Team
Greta Marturano, Top Girls Fassa Bortolo
Juliette Labous, Team Sunweb
Lonneke Uneken, Boels – Dolmans Cycling Team
Alba Teruel, Movistar Team
Francesca Pattaro, Astana Womens Team
Erica Magnaldi, Ceratizit-WNT Pro Cycling
Floortje Mackaij, Team Sunweb
Beatrice Rossato, Eurotarget – Bianchi – Vittoria
Tayler Wiles, Trek-Segafredo Women
Dani Hristmas, Lotto Soudal Ladies
Eri Yonamine, Alé BTC Ljubljana
Silvia Zanardi, Bepink
Francesca Baroni, Servetto – Piumate – Beltrami TSA
Katharina Hechler, Cogeas – Mettler Pro Cycling Team
Giorgia Bariani, Top Girls Fassa Bortolo
Silvia Persico, Valcar – Travel & Service
Elena Cecchini, Canyon SRAM Racing
Paula Andrea Patiño, Movistar Team
Maryna Ivaniuk, Astana Womens Team
Sofia Bertizzolo, CCC – Liv
Stine Borgli, FDJ Nouvelle Aquitaine Futuroscope
Alice Gasparini, Eurotarget – Bianchi – Vittoria
Lucinda Brand, Trek-Segafredo Women
Teuntje Beekhuis, Lotto Soudal Ladies
Anna Trevisi, Alé BTC Ljubljana
Sara Casasola, Servetto – Piumate – Beltrami TSA
Melissa Van Neck, Bepink
Annabel Van Neck, Cogeas – Mettler Pro Cycling Team
Nina Kessler, Team TIBCO – SVB
Marta Cavalli, Valcar – Travel & Service
Eugénie Duval, FDJ Nouvelle Aquitaine Futuroscope
Lourdes Oyarbide, Movistar Team
Sofia Collinelli, Aromitalia Vaiano
Katarzyna Niewiadoma, Canyon SRAM Racing
Emilia Fahlin, FDJ Nouvelle Aquitaine Futuroscope
Anouska Koster, Parkhotel Valkenburg
Clara Koppenburg, Équipe Paule Ka
Giorgia Vettorello, Top Girls Fassa Bortolo
Rosalia Ortiz, Servetto – Piumate – Beltrami TSA
Georgia Williams, Mitchelton-Scott
Kseniya Dobrynina, Servetto – Piumate – Beltrami TSA
Valentina Landuzzi, Bepink
Lea Lin Teutenberg, Ceratizit-WNT Pro Cycling
Leah Dixon, Team TIBCO – SVB
Teniel Campbell, Valcar – Travel & Service
Lina Svarinska, Eurotarget – Bianchi – Vittoria
Alicia González, Movistar Team
Anastasia Carbonari, Aromitalia Vaiano
Jessica Allen, Mitchelton-Scott
Nancy Van Der Burg, Parkhotel Valkenburg
Noemi Rüegg, Cogeas – Mettler Pro Cycling Team
Gaia Masetti, Top Girls Fassa Bortolo
Elis Simeoni, Servetto – Piumate – Beltrami TSA
Moniek Tenniglo, Mitchelton-Scott
Nina Buysman, Parkhotel Valkenburg
Olga Shekel, Astana Womens Team
Ella Harris, Canyon SRAM Racing
Ashleigh Moolman, CCC – Liv

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