UCI Road World Cup 2011
Round 8 - van Vleuten wins in Sweden and jumps into leads by 7 points in World Cup
Vårgåda, Sweden 132km
Annemiek van Vleuten (Nederland Bloeit) sprinted to victory in the 8th round of the World Cup ahead of Ellen van Dijk (HTC Highroad) and Nicole Cooke (SC Mcipollini Giambenini). The win, put van Vleuten in the lead in the world cup standings, 7 points ahead of her team mate Marianne Vos and 74 points clear of Emma Johansson (Hitec)
As with previous years the course around Vårgåda was technical and challenging. Unlike 2010, the conditions were perfect. It was warm, sunny and there was very little breeze. It did rain a little towards the end of the race and unfortunately for the waiting crowds at the victory ceremony, the heavens opened before and during the entire presentation.
It was anticipated that attacks would go all day and they did. The fast turn of pace and very technical course left a few riders searching for their mechanics in the early part of the race.
The race was fast right from the start, Hitec led the charge from the front. Swedish team Alriksson Go Green tried to send a rider up the road. Madelene Olsson got clear but HTC Highroad were quick to close the gap. Emma Pooley (Garmin Cervelo) stretched the legs of the bunch up the climb for the 3rd time. Again the Hitec, HTC Highroad and Nederland Bloeit teams were there to close it down. On the descent into Vargarda, Jessica Kihlbom (Alriksson Go-Green) attacked. She was joined by Madeleine Sandig (Germany). The pair managed to gain a 20 second lead on the peloton before HTC Highroad closed the door again.
Just before the fourth time up the climb a crash split the peloton, Many riders had to climb at their maximums to catch the lead bunch of 60 riders. Emilia Fahlin (HTC Highroad) attacked on the climb but Pooley was there to cover the move.
After two hours of racing the bunch were all back together. With 5 laps to go, the attacks were coming thick and fast. First, Petra Dijkman (Dolmans Landscaping) tried to go but Annemiek van Vleuten (Nederland Bloeit) closed the gap to her. On the climb, Arndt attacked and managed to gain a small gap. But Hitec and Garmin Cervelo closed in. After 75km of racing the peloton were strung out over 300m as the pace increased to 55km an hour leading to the climb. Lizzie Armitstead (Garmin Cervelo) tried to attack half way up the climb but Fahlin chased and closed the gap. Fahlin then counter attacked but she was countered by Italian road champion Noemi Cantele (Garmin Cervelo). The bunch did not let them go and they were back together again.
At the start of lap 10, Hitec's Australian rider Tiffany Cromwell attacked and in doing so created a leading group of eight riders. Cromwell could not stay with the leaders but the damage was done.
After 105km of racing a break finally formed. The group included; van Vleuten (Nederland Bloeit), Ellen van Dijk (HTC Highroad), Iris Slappendal (Garmin Cervelo), Irene van den Broek (AA Drink -Leontien.NL), Nicole Cooke (SC MCipollini Giambenini), Oxana Kozonchuck (Russia) and Regina Bruins (Netherlands). This group got a maximum gap of 46 seconds lead ahead of the chasing peloton.
With one lap to go the leaders had a 40 second gap. By the time they reached the climb for the last time the gap was down to 25 seconds. With a fast descent into Vargarda the break started to split. The Russian lost contact. van Dijk and Slappendal attacked but they were chased by Cooke. The six remaining leaders had a 15 second lead with 2km to go.
The peloton were closing fast. At 1km on the entry to Vårgåda the leaders were at 5 seconds. At 800m, van Vleuten decided it was time to go. She attacked and by the time van Dijk had reacted, van Vleuten had a 15m gap. Cooke also chased. With 200m to go, van Vleuten was clear, van Dijk just held on for second ahead of Cooke and the peloton, which had caught the group in the last 100m, was led by Ina-Yoko Teutenberg (HTC Highroad).
Marianne Vos, World Cup leader slowed as she reached the finish line in the bunch. She sat up when she realised that her team-mate would win, she then watched for the finishing position of nearest competitor in the season-long competition, Emma Johansson (Hitec Products), who managed tenth. Vos knew immediately that was enough for van Vleuten to take the World Cup lead, she (Vos) made her own two-handed celebration for her team-mate as she passed through the finish area.
van Vleuten and Vos now lead the overall standings. If Johansson won the final race in Plouay, the pair would only need to be in the top 20 to secure the jersey for the team.
Annemiek van Vleuten (Nederland Bloeit) was all smiles as she crossed the line in Sweden to win the 8th round of the World Cup and jump into the overall lead. “We went away in the third last lap. I was there with a lot of Dutch girls and it was perfect. We worked well together. It was exciting because the gap wasn’t very big. No bigger than 40-45 seconds I think. In the end it almost came back together. I attacked with 800m to go. I felt so strong today. I had really good legsand I was in front from the start,” said van Vleuten.
Marianne Vos (Nederland Bloiet) could not have been happier for her team mate Annemiek van Vleuten. "We knew Annemiek was strong and she had really good legs. To have both of us in the top two places is incredible, “ said Vos. "It will be an interesting race in Plouay. I am very excited. It is great for both of us and the team," added Vos.
Jeroen Blijlevens (Sport Director Nederland Bloeit) had laid out a perfect plan for his team this season that started over winter. The goal was to win the world cup overall with Annemiek van Vleuten. Today in Sweden he was one step closer when van Vleuten crossed the line in first place and jumped into the lead in the overall standings ahead of team mate Marianne Vos, “It was our plan and it worked perfectly. Marianne [Vos] slowed on the line to secure the jersey for the team but also to see where Emma Johansson was. We just need to make sure we are in the top 20 in Plouay and we have it, I am very happy," said Blijlevens.
Photos Click on any image to enlarge >>[2011_ChangedCopy/Gallery2011/WorldCupRoad/08_Sweden/PhotoIndex.html]
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