Annemiek van Vleuten debuts final season at Setmana Ciclista

Reigning world champion opens 'greatest hits' farewell season Thursday in Spain against top field.

Photo: Bas Czerwinski/Getty Images

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Annemiek van Vleuten debuts final season at Setmana Ciclista on Thursday in Spain’s Valencia region.

The four-stage race runs through Sunday, and will be Van Vleuten’s first major hit-out since finishing second at the Tour de Romandie in October.

Van Vleuten — back from a long training camp in Colombia — said the race will help set up her up for her first major goals at Omloop Het Nieuwsblad and Strade Bianche.

She also said she’s excited about racing with new Movistar teammates Floortje Mackaij and Liane Lippert, who bring new depth to the team.

“A very nice additional factor is that we have two new additions to the team with Floortje and Liane. I will ride with Floortje in Valencia and with both in the Omloop and Strade,” Van Vleuten said. “As a result, we have several cards to play. That could also work out less for me if I have to keep my legs still when we have one of those two or another teammate in front.”

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The reigning world champion headlines a top start list that includes Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig (FDJ Suez), Clara Koppenburg (Cofidis), 2021 world champion Elisa Balsamo, who penned a long-term contract extension with Trek-Segafredo, and Olympic champion Anna Kiesenhofer, who debuts in Israel Premier Tech Roland colors this week.

The peloton of 160 riders with 13 of the 15 WorldTour teams lines up in Valencia on Thursday in what’s a start of a very busy racing calendar in Europe.

The top stars will be busy with the spring classics through April, before racing the Vuelta a España, Giro d’Italia, and Tour de France Femmes all in a row through July.

7th Setmana Ciclista-Volta Femenina de la Comunitat Valenciana

Stage 1: València to Sagunt, 119 km
Stage 2: etapa: Borriana to Vila-real, 117 km
Stage 3: Agost to Altea, 132 km
Stage 4: Tavernes de la Valldigna to Gandia, 112 km

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