Annemiek van Vleuten secures Strade Bianche win in Italy

Annemiek van Vleuten

Van Vleuten suffered a serious crash to the 2016 Olympics in Rio during the women’s road race

Dutchwoman Annemiek van Vleuten won the Strade Bianche one-day race in Italy for her first victory since injuring a knee at the 2018 World Championships.

The 36-year-old two-time world time trial champion made a solo breakaway on the final gravel sector near Siena and maintained her advantage to win.

In the men’s race, Deceuninck-Quick Step rider Julian Alaphilippe became the first Frenchman to win the event.

Reigning Tour de France champion Geraint Thomas finished in 12th place.

“I thought it was maybe a bit too early as I’ve just had 10 weeks of training after I broke my knee,” Van Vleuten said.

“But I worked very hard because the race was on my wish list to win.”

Van Vleuten, who fractured her spine when she crashed while leading the Olympic road race in 2016, was part of a group of 11 riders to break clear late on before she made her move over a steep climb and opened up a gap of 40 seconds, which the chasing peloton failed to close down.

“I just waited for a good moment [to attack],” she added. “There was only one team-mate with me, only Lucy Kennedy, and it was really good for us to be there together but we were a bit outnumbered.

“We were only two in a big group so we had to play poker a bit, then I thought I had to put the hammer down on the uphill.”

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