Setmana Valenciana (Stage 3)
The Olympic champion, backed by a solvent Movistar Team, on the attack on the final climbs of the ‘queen’ day of the Setmana Valenciana, prevails with authority and leads the general classification one day from the end.
She did not give her rivals any chance and opened up the account of the Movistar Team women’s team in a big way, as was the case in 2021. Annemiek van Vleuten made good predictions and won the ‘queen’ stage, and the leadership, of a Setmana Valenciana in which the telefonica squad is only 24 hours away from achieving a historic milestone: repeating victory for the first time in the six editions of the race that it inaugurates the international calendar.
‘Miek’ prevailed alone in Vistabella del Maestrazgo, the end of a tough 3rd section over 135 km that started in Vila-real and three 1st category climbs. To the second of them, El Collao, the peloton arrived compactly where the work of Martín -attacking at the start-, González, Oyarbide, Rodríguez and, already in the ascent, two relays of Aalerud and Patiño.
In the company of Uttrup Ludwig, Cavalli (FDJ) and García (UAD) until the last kilometre and a half of the ascent, Van Vleuten ended up prevailing with her repeated attacks and opened up some more than considerable differences at the finish line – more than a minute over second place -. A resounding success that could be doubled if she completes the flat stage tomorrow. Sunday, although always dangerous, sees the last hurdle between Sagunto and Valencia.
Comments / Annemiek van Vleuten:
“It has been nice to see the team working so well after two days that have perhaps been harder for them. It has given me great joy to see them run together, always be ahead and always have companions around, at all times.
She knew that at 17km from the finish line, within the penultimate climb, there was a part at 7% and that later she smoothed out to five per cent. As there was also a lot of headwinds, it was a situation for the rivals that allowed them to take the wheel from me and no gap could be opened. I had some doubts whether attacking from such a distance would have been good, but I also thought that in the end, the longer the effort, the better it would be for me. I have asked Paula (Patiño) to set a strong pace, I have given Katrine (Aalerud) continuity and in the 7% zone, I have attacked and only García, Uttrup and Cavalli have endured.
I tried to keep pushing hard for 4-5 kilometres, I had them on my wheel and then I asked them to take over. Cavalli and Uttrup took over, while García did not. There has been a time when Cavalli has left a gap for Uttrup Ludwig to try to leave. There was then a kilometre and a half to the summit. I took advantage of a curve with a steeper ramp to catch it and make an effort that made things even more difficult for them… and that’s when I managed to go! It has been ideal because if not, it would be easy for them to follow the wheel from the back.
Something that I’m very good at is keeping that rhythm like a time trial on the way to the finish line… and that’s what I’ve tried to do in the rest of the climb and towards the end. The radio didn’t work for me on the last climb, but with 2 km to go the car was able to enter next to me, encouraging me and helping me, and it was a goosebumps finish. It gives me a lot of confidence to defend the jersey tomorrow.
With these differences in the general classification and tomorrow’s route, it should be a little easier than normal. Of course, we will have to race very focused tomorrow, but we will also have to take into account that there will be teams with sprinters who will work to ensure the finish. One more day and, hopefully, we can take this orange jersey home…
Already in a general way, happy with the test that I have given to the legs. I have trained a lot this winter and seeing the results come is very comforting. People know how I train, and on a day like today, on these long climbs, those one-hour efforts, which I sometimes simulate in concentration camps, it helps me a lot to be able to keep up these paces until the finish line”.