|Two wins in two days for|
Annemiek van Vleuten
Baking heat, strong winds and a crash just 7km into the parcours proved too much for a big chunk of the field and caused the peloton to split rapidly into three groups; a small lead group being chased by a second and a big pack of riders simply trying to survive some way down the road as the tough conditions dissuaded anyone from even thinking about putting in more effort than was strictly needed. An attitude of "We're all in this together; let's just get through it" developed, made most evident when Senger mechanics went to the aid of Specialized-DPM-SRAM rider Anouska Kloster - a nice demonstration of the friendliness that, for the most part, is found in women's cycling; but nevertheless many riders preferred to sit it out in the autobus and no doubt wished that they were aboard a real, air con-equipped bus.
It wasn't until the final part of the race that the attacks began. Chantal Blaak (AA Drink-Leontien.nl) was first to go but didn't get far, then van Vleuten and Shelley Olds (AA Drink-Leontien.nl) went together, apparently as much to check out one another's strength as in the hope of actually achieving anything because they'd let off the pace and were back with Blaak moments later. Blaak, meanwhile, was feeling the effects of the heat and was replaced by Amanda Spratt (Australian National Team), the three of them working together to grab an extra 50m and 30" going into the 108th kilometre.
Spratt launched an attack of her own a short while later but was soon back. The final 5km, with the three of them calmly riding together, was a fantastically tense bit of racing - each of them demonstrated the sort of self-control of which a poker player would feel proud and gave absolutely no indication of when, or even if, they were about to launch what might well prove to be the winning move. They were still together at 2km to go, then 1km, then 200m...and then van Vleuten lit the fuse and flung herself up the road towards the finish, getting there mere fractions of a second before Olds with Spratt 4" behind. The chase group arrived 1'42" later with Marieke Van Wanroij getting a 2" advantage over the rest, then a third group led by Roxane Knetemann came in just shy of three minutes after the winner. The autobus arrived at +6'23" and turned out to have no fewer than 68 riders onboard, then Judith Bloem (Restore) closed up the race when she crossed the line 6'56" after van Vleuten. Chapeau to everyone who finished - 49 riders did not.
1. Annemiek van Vleuten Rabobank 3h04'44"
2. Shelley Olds AA Drink-Leontien.nl ST
3. Amanda Spratt Orica GreenEdge-AIS +04"
4. Marieke Van Wanroij AA Drink-Leontien.nl +1'42"
5. Chantal Blaak AA Drink-Leontien.nl +1'44"
6. Iris Slappendel Rabobank ST
7. Pauline Ferrand Prevot Rabobank ST
8. Gracie Elvin ST
9. Suzanne De Goede Skil-Argos ST
10. Roxane Knetemann Rabobank +2'59"
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