Van Vleuten repeats 2011 trick
After a decisive attack on the Paterberg, Annemiek van Vleuten commenced on a solo ride towards Oudenaarde. There the European champion won her second victory in the Ronde, exactly 10 years after her first victory.
The women started their Tour of Flanders in Oudenaarde at 2pm. There were several attack attempts during the first hours of the race, but no early breakaway formed. The women raced according to their fastest schedule and did not let anyone get away.
We had to wait until the final in the Flemish Ardennes. There, European champion Van Vleuten (Movistar Team Women) broke open the race twice on the Kanarieberg. Her acceleration shattered the peloton. Van Vleuten did not break away, but French champion Cordon-Ragot (Trek-Segafredo) did. She went solo up the Taaienberg with a 20-second lead.
In the background, Paladin (Liv Racing) attacked. The Italian could not close the gap with Cordon-Ragot and was eventually caught again by the peloton. Cordon-Ragot was caught with 19km to go. At that moment Belgian champion Kopecky (Liv Racing) was hindered because of mechanical problems. She swapped bikes with teammate Paladin and tried to rejoin the favourites group just before the start of the Oude Kwaremont.
On the Oude Kwaremont, world champion Van der Breggen (Team SD Worx) set the pace. Under the pounding, Deignan (Trek-Segafredo) and Vos (Jumbo-Visma Women Team), winner of Gent-Wevelgem, had to drop out. In the descent of the Oude Kwaremont, the Australian Brown (Team BikeExchange) went on the attack. For a moment it looked like she was going to pull off a solo, but the group of Van der Breggen didn't let her go.
European champion Van Vleuten was the first to start the final climb and set the pace on the Paterberg. The Dutchwoman went alone and started the last 13 km towards Oudenaarde. She successfully defended ten seconds on the chasing group and could finally cheer on the Minderbroederstraat in Oudenaarde. In the chasing group Lisa Brennauer (Ceratizit - WNT Pro Cycling Team) won the sprint for second place, ahead of Grace Brown (Team BikeExchange).
After her victory in Dwars door Vlaanderen earlier this week, the 38-year-old Dutch rider was able to rejoice at the finish of the Tour of Flanders 10 years after her first Tour of Flanders victory.