After her spectacular win on the summit finish of the Col d’Izoard on Thursday Annemiek van Vleuten was the favourite for today’s pursuit stage of La Course by Le Tour de France and the Dutch champion did not disappoint, storming to another convincing victory for ORICA-SCOTT women.
The best twenty riders from Thursday’s stage won the right to compete for the win in today’s second event, with the time gaps from the Izoard carried into a staggered start for the 22.5kilometre time trial course around Marseille.
Van Vleuten began with a 43second advantage and quickly started to build on it. The closest chasers were working together, but their hesitation only cost them time as Van Vleuten’s lead continued to grow.
Maintaining around one minute 40seconds for the duration of the course Van Vleuten entered the Stade Velodrome to the sound of victorious applause and sealed a memorable one-two here in France.
“It’s really special to have won both stages at La Course,” said a jubilant Van Vleuten. “I get goose bumps thinking about Thursday with the mountain finish, but today was a beautiful course with a lot of people on the road cheering and I just wanted to stick to my plan and go as hard as possible.”
“It was difficult doing this kind of ride without any information, but I saw that the first three chasers were riding together and I thought that this is going to be hard, it made me a bit nervous.
“I stuck to my plan to go as hard as possible and smash the climb and then with two kilometres to go I heard the gap was one minute 40seconds and I was really happy. It’s awesome. I really enjoyed the race and the crowds out there cheering was very special.”
Amanda Spratt crossed the line in fifth after jumping up a place from starting in sixth on the standings wrapping up a successful day for ORICA-SCOTT women.
“We weren’t sure how it was going to play out today as we were all venturing into the unknown,” said sport director Gene Bates. “But we knew that with the form and focus Annemiek has it would be difficult to catch her.”
“We remained a little bit wary once the first group of chasers got together because there were some strong riders in there, but yet again Annemiek produced a fantastic performance.
“The plan was get over the climb and then try to push on again and she is so strong at the moment that she continued to gain time going into the final, we’re really happy with the result. Spratty did great too, she rode an intelligent race and managed to move up into fifth to wrap it up nicely.
“July has been a great month for us. We have achieved our goals and then some and we’re very proud of our performances, this has been a really exciting and positive event. Great exposure for the team, superb support on the road and there’s no better advert for us than two really great victories in such a big event.”
How it happened:
A great atmosphere at the Stade Velodrome welcomed the riders to the start of this first time pursuit style event as Van Vleuten, the winner on the Col d’Izoard kicked off proceedings with a 43second head start on her competitors.
The 22.5kilometre course was predominantly flat apart from a short, sharp climb just outside of Marseille. Van Vleuten started well, measuring her effort and slipping into a good rhythm.
The following riders down the ramp unsurprisingly waited for each other and began to rotate their efforts with the aim of closing the gap to Van Vleuten.
Spratt was sixth to start behind the first chasers and formed part of the third group on the road, but by the halfway point Van Vleuten was looking strong and maintaining a one minute 42second advantage
As she hit the climb Van Vleuten’s lead was intact and from there never looked to be in doubt, the Dutch champion didn’t let up and carried her advantage into a cheering Stade Velodrome to take the victory.
La Course by Le Tour de France stage 2 – Pursuit results:
1. Annemiek van Vleuten (ORICA-SCOTT) 00:32:52
2. Elizabeth Deignan (Boels-Dolmans) +1:52
3. Elisa Longo Borghini +1:53