An impressive, yet expected these days, ride from Annemiek van Vleuten saw the Dutch rider take the victory on Stage 2 and the lead in the general classification. She finished over 2 minutes ahead of her rivals after escaping on the penultimate major climb. On the 105.9 kilometres long queen stage of this year’s race, the general classification was turned on its head after the opening team time trial.
An opening attack by Anna Kiesenhofer, reminiscent of the Olympic Games, was quickly caught – the peloton showing it had learned its lesson. A second break with Maaike Coljé, Lucinda Brand, Sarah Roy, Sophie Wright and Marta Lach did go clear going up the first climb. Over the summit, just Brand and Roy were left. Elisa Longo Borghini and Shirin van Anrooij crashed but were quickly back on their way. With the Trek duo back in the bunch before the penultimate climb.
With around 30km left to go, Annemiek van Vleuten attacked after a powerful train by Movistar. The team led the peloton into the climb at speed, splitting it and causing riders to drop. When her teammates completed their job, Van Vleuten got out of the saddle and put the power down. Demi Vollering, Elisa Longo Borghini, Mavi Garcia and Liane Lippert were the only ones able to go with her. One by one they dropped off, with Vollering the last to go. By the summit, Van Vleuten was 45 seconds ahead of her Vollering and 1:05 ahead of Longo Borghini and Lippert. Mavi Garcia was further back at this point. For an in-depth analysis of the efforts, make sure to check out this Ceratizit Challenge Stage 2 analysis piece.
The chase didn’t make any headway and Van Vleuten extended her lead on the final climb. That was partly because the chase kept splitting up, with Longo Borghini the quickest descender of the group and gapping her companions. At the finish, Van Vleuten would be 2:16 ahead of the chasing trio.
“But it was really good teamwork, and that makes it extra special. We made it difficult on the third climb and so we set up the attack together.
It’s a short stage, then I know it’s going to be tough. I really needed the team for that. We decided together to do that from the third climb. As a result, everyone was already suffering before I attacked.
I had no idea after the Tour. I took some time off and then started training again. I have also just returned from an altitude training camp. It is also only the second day of the Vuelta. That’s different from the Tour, when I made my attack on the seventh day.
Now everyone is still fresh. This was the toughest ride, but it’s not over to Madrid yet. In the fourth stage, the wind can still play a role, for example.”Annemiek van Vleuten
Image credits: Sprint Cycling Agency