Women’s Tour of Flanders: Annemiek van Vleuten fends off chase in solo victory

Dutch star returns a decade later to win De Ronde with searing attack on the Paterberg.

Photo: Luc Claessen/Getty Images

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It was Annemiek van Vleuten (Movistar) versus the world in Sunday’s Tour of Flanders, and van Vleuten won.

In a dramatic combination of racing tactics and brute strength, the Dutch superstar attacked on the Paterberg and fended off a fierce chase to win the Belgian classic in brilliant domination.

Lisa Brennauer (Ceratizit-WNT) rode to second out of a chase group, with Grace Brown (Team BikeExchange) rounding out the podium with third.

“I think I was waiting for nine years after my 2011 victory,” van Vleuten said. “It was so cool to rewatch that and then do it again. Especially for my new team, Team Movistar, so I’m super, super proud. The girls worked super hard for me and I was the number one leader, so to finish it off like this, I think we’re going to celebrate really big tonight.”

Van Vleuten attacked midway up the Paterberg to take a slender lead to a handful of chasers at the sharp end of an intense race. The Dutch superstar — who came to form to win Dwars door Vlaanderen last week — nursed a five-second lead with 13km to go against a group of elite seven chasers.

Also read: Van Vleuten starts new chapter at Movistar

With numbers in the chase group behind her, van Vleuten kept pouring it on, and De Ronde was reduced into a tense tug-of-war of a solo time trial versus the competitive interests of the chasers.

“I came here with dreams of winning, but to be third here in one of the biggest races, I’m happy,” Brown said. “It’s hard in the situation, because the person off the front is going full-gas, and everyone in the chase doesn’t want to go more than the person next to them. We had a strong chase, but it wasn’t strong enough to bring her back, so that was a bit disappointing.”

The 2020 European road champ — who spent much of the winter training on the Teide volcano in Spain — dangled off the front just a razor-thin 10 seconds as the race hit the flats on the run back into Oudenaarde.

Van Vleuten, who last won De Ronde in 2011, revealed tremendous strength in the closing flat run toward the line. Despite SD Worx and FDJ Nouvelle Aquitaine Futuroscope having numbers, the chase never seemed to fully gel. Elisa Longo Borghini (Trek-Segafredo) and Marta Cavalli (FDJ) were not pulling through, causing disruption in the pursuit. Longo Borghini later said she was under team orders not to chase as Deignan and others were in the chase group behind.

Van Vleuten hit the red kite and had time to savor her hard-fought victory a decade after winning it before.

Anna van der Breggen breaks it up on Oude Kwaremont

The leaders sized each other up ahead of the Oude Kwaremont-Paterberg double in the decisive closing 20km to go.

Anna van der Breggen set a scorching pace up Oude Kwaremont to fracture the leaders on the iconic climb. Only about seven riders could follow her surge. Grace Brown (Team BikeExchange) and van Vleuten shadowed her every pedal stroke. A few big names were gapped, including Marianne Vos (Jumbo-Visma) and Lizzie Deignan (Trek-Segafredo).

Also read: Why Dutch riders are dominating the peloton

Lotte Kopecky (Liv Racing) was chasing desperately after getting caught up behind the bunch at the base of Oude Kwaremont. Brown jumped out of the front group with 16km to go, putting pressure on everyone behind her. Van Vleuten was the first to bridge out, and the pair powered toward the Paterberg just a few seconds ahead of the chasers.




Big move from Audrey Cordon-Ragot

The race spiced up in the final hour of racing. Van Vleuten dropped some haymakers on the Kanarieberg that fractured the ever-shrinking front group with about 50km to go. The pack fractured under the pressure, with the lead group reduced to about 50 riders left to play for the spoils.

Not wanting to leave it too late, Trek-Segafredo took the race by the scruff of the neck. French national champion Audrey Cordon-Ragot jumped clear before the Taaienberg, and soon carved up a promising gap. The favorites were marking each other, and Cordon-Ragot held a 40-second lead as the leaders headed toward the Kruisberg with less than 30km to go.

Liv Cycling sent Soraya Paladin in pursuit when Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig (FDJ Nouvelle Aquitaine Futuroscope) jumped near the top of the Kruisberg, but wasn’t given any rope. 

Cordon-Ragot refused to give up and nursed a 20-second gap at 20km to go as she powered toward the Oude Kwaremont-Paterberg combination. The catch was soon on, and the race entered its decisive phase.

Ronde van Vlaanderen - Tour des Flandres WE Results

1VAN VLEUTEN AnnemiekMovistar Team4:01:11
2BRENNAUER LisaCeratizit-WNT Pro Cycling0:26
3BROWN GraceTeam BikeExchange0:26
4LONGO BORGHINI ElisaTrek-Segafredo Women0:26
5VOLLERING DemiTeam SD Worx0:26
6CAVALLI MartaFDJ Nouvelle Aquitaine Futuroscope0:26
7LUDWIG Cecilie UttrupFDJ Nouvelle Aquitaine Futuroscope0:28
8VAN DER BREGGEN AnnaTeam SD Worx0:35
9REUSSER MarlenAlé BTC Ljubljana0:51
10FAULKNER KristenTeam TIBCO - SVB0:55
11THOMAS LeahMovistar Team0:57
12VOS MarianneTeam Jumbo-Visma Women1:00
13KOPECKY LotteLiv Racing1:00
14PIETERS AmyTeam SD Worx1:00
15BALSAMO ElisaValcar - Travel & Service1:00
16CONFALONIERI Maria GiuliaCeratizit-WNT Pro Cycling1:00
17MACKAIJ FloortjeTeam DSM1:00
18DEIGNAN ElizabethTrek-Segafredo Women1:00
19VAN DEN BROEK-BLAAK ChantalTeam SD Worx1:00
20NIEWIADOMA KatarzynaCanyon//SRAM Racing1:03
21VAN DIJK EllenTrek-Segafredo Women1:04
22JACKSON AlisonLiv Racing2:11
23CROMWELL TiffanyCanyon//SRAM Racing2:11
24HENDERSON AnnaTeam Jumbo-Visma Women2:11
25BREDEWOLD MischaParkhotel Valkenburg2:11
26LIPPERT LianeTeam DSM2:11
27MARKUS RiejanneTeam Jumbo-Visma Women2:11
28SPRATT AmandaTeam BikeExchange2:11
29CHAPMAN BrodieFDJ Nouvelle Aquitaine Futuroscope2:11
30ROY SarahTeam BikeExchange4:08
31CORDON-RAGOT AudreyTrek-Segafredo Women4:08
32RYAN AlexisCanyon//SRAM Racing5:22
33SCHWEINBERGER KathrinDoltcini - Van Eyck - Proximus CT5:22
34KOCH FranziskaTeam DSM5:22
35NORSGAARD EmmaMovistar Team5:22
36BOOGAARD MaaikeAlé BTC Ljubljana5:22
37KOSTER AnouskaTeam Jumbo-Visma Women5:22
38KOREVAAR JeanneLiv Racing5:22
40NORMAN LETH JulieCeratizit-WNT Pro Cycling5:22
41DE JONG ThalitaBingoal Casino - Chevalmeire Cycling Team 5:22
42CONSONNI ChiaraValcar - Travel & Service5:22
43VAN DER DUIN MaikeDrops - Le Col s/b TEMPUR.5:22
44BASTIANELLI MartaAlé BTC Ljubljana5:22
45BERTIZZOLO SofiaLiv Racing5:22
46DEMEY ValerieLiv Racing5:22
47RAGUSA KatiaA.R. Monex Women's Pro Cycling Team5:22
48NILSSON HannaLotto Soudal Ladies5:22
49VANDENBULCKE JesseLotto Soudal Ladies5:22
50KERN ŠpelaMassi - Tactic Women Team5:22
51KLEIN LisaCanyon//SRAM Racing5:22
52KASPER RomyTeam Jumbo-Visma Women5:22
53VAN DER HEIJDEN IngePlantur-Pura5:22
54DUVAL EugénieFDJ Nouvelle Aquitaine Futuroscope5:22
55YSLAND Anne DortheTeam Coop - Hitec Products5:22
56GUAZZINI VittoriaValcar - Travel & Service5:22
57GROSSETÊTE MaëlleFDJ Nouvelle Aquitaine Futuroscope5:22
58NOVOLODSKAIA MariaA.R. Monex Women's Pro Cycling Team5:22
59LACH MartaCeratizit-WNT Pro Cycling5:22
60LABOUS JulietteTeam DSM5:22
61GIGANTE SarahTeam TIBCO - SVB5:22
62MAJERUS ChristineTeam SD Worx5:22
63FAHLIN EmiliaFDJ Nouvelle Aquitaine Futuroscope5:22
64BARNES AliceCanyon//SRAM Racing5:22
65BARNES HannahCanyon//SRAM Racing5:22
66PALADIN SorayaLiv Racing5:28
67BRAND LucindaTrek-Segafredo Women5:28
68STEPHENS LaurenTeam TIBCO - SVB8:30
69GERRITSE FemkeParkhotel Valkenburg8:39
70PENTON SaraDrops - Le Col s/b TEMPUR.8:39
71HEINE VitaMassi - Tactic Women Team8:39
72PARKINSON Abby MaeLotto Soudal Ladies8:39
73RAAIJMAKERS MaritParkhotel Valkenburg8:42
74HAMMES KathrinCeratizit-WNT Pro Cycling8:42
75VAN DEN STEEN KellyBingoal Casino - Chevalmeire Cycling Team 8:47
76PERSICO SilviaValcar - Travel & Service8:47
77TENNIGLO MoniekTeam BikeExchange8:47
78D'HOORE JolienTeam SD Worx8:47
79TOMASI LauraAlé BTC Ljubljana8:47
80CANT SannePlantur-Pura8:47
81ERIĆ JelenaMovistar Team8:47
82CAMPBELL TenielTeam BikeExchange8:47
83DUYCK Ann-SophieMultum Accountants Ladies Cycling Team9:58
84NOOIJEN LiekeParkhotel Valkenburg9:59
85VAN 'T GELOOF MarjoleinDrops - Le Col s/b TEMPUR.9:59
86VAN HOUTUM CélineMultum Accountants Ladies Cycling Team9:59
87MARKUS FemkeParkhotel Valkenburg9:59
88SALAZAR Lizbeth YareliA.R. Monex Women's Pro Cycling Team9:59
89WATERREUS KylieMultum Accountants Ladies Cycling Team9:59
90KESSLER NinaTeam TIBCO - SVB9:59
91DE SMEDT MarijkeMultum Accountants Ladies Cycling Team9:59
92LELEIVYTĖ RasaAromitalia - Basso Bikes - Vaiano9:59
93DELBAERE FienMultum Accountants Ladies Cycling Team9:59
94COLJÉ MaaikeMassi - Tactic Women Team9:59
95VAN GOGH NatalieBingoal Casino - Chevalmeire Cycling Team 9:59
96LUTRO AmalieTeam Coop - Hitec Products9:59
97ESPÍNOLA Agua MarinaMassi - Tactic Women Team9:59
98ČEŠULIENĖ IngaAromitalia - Basso Bikes - Vaiano9:59
99KIRCHMANN LeahTeam DSM9:59
100VAN ALPHEN AniekPlantur-Pura9:59
101BENITO MireiaMassi - Tactic Women Team9:59
102BUJAK EugeniaAlé BTC Ljubljana10:03
103BAKKER ManonPlantur-Pura10:03
104ALVARADO Ceylin del CarmenPlantur-Pura10:03
105SANGUINETI IlariaValcar - Travel & Service10:03
106GUDERZO TatianaAlé BTC Ljubljana10:03
107SWINKELS KarlijnTeam Jumbo-Visma Women10:03
108MEERTENS LoneLotto Soudal Ladies10:03
109VAN EYNDE FienDoltcini - Van Eyck - Proximus CT11:26
110FIDANZA AriannaTeam BikeExchange11:26
111TRIAS MireiaMassi - Tactic Women Team12:52

Results provided by ProCyclingStats.

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