Annemiek van Vleuten has not yet taken her first win of the season, but a dominant performance at the Vuelta Femenina this afternoon saw her jump into the race lead and has taken half a step to conquer the GC tomorrow.
“My team leader said through communication: ‘Girls, are you ready for some action? I think there's a good chance.' We all said, 'Yes, we're going for it!'. We know the area well and it was a super good moment," van Vleuten said in a post-race interview. The strong winds once again caused echelons today, where race leader Demi Vollering was caught out.
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“It was unfortunate for some girls that they had to stop to pee, but we had already made the plan,” Van Vleuten added. "The team leader also said: 'We have already made the plan and they stop to pee.' It is not so nice for them, but it is also part of the course to stop at the right time and not at a time when a crosswind arrives.”
The Dutchwoman then attacked in the first categorized climb of the day, distancing the entire front group herself. It was a masterplan thinking of the overall classification and Vollering. Vollering managed to later on latch on to the group where van Vleuten had attacked from, but the World Champion was already up the road.
She couldn't take the stage win as Gaia Realini joined her in the final kilometers and then won in the sprint, but the bonus second and 1:04 minutes on the road saw her jump into the red jersey. “We went full throttle. It was a real team effort, I am very proud of the team. I had to finish it. The climbs were coming, so I went, also because there was still a bonification sprint," she descrbies.
"Suddenly I was alone. Only Realini could follow me. She probably has the freshest legs for tomorrow, because she had a free ride to the finish with me." Now van Vleuten sets off for the final stage up Lagos de Covadonga with 1:11 minutes lead over second placed rider Demi Vollering, and is the woman to beat.