Annemiek van Vleuten (Movistar) was happy with what is likely her final race in the Basque Country after having thrown everything at SD Worx on the final stage of Itzulia Women, even though ultimately everything was still not enough.
“I love the racing here. I think maybe the Basque people like that my style of racing is aggressive and that I try to make the race. So I’m happy that I also ended like that today, keeping on fighting,” said the world champion.
“I enjoyed it, I hear so many people say my name here. I cannot say it was about not having the support to not be able to win, it was awesome.”
Van Vleuten was unable to keep the momentum rolling after her victory at La Vuelta Femenina last week and finished fifth overall, 3:07 down on eventual winner Marlen Reusser (SD Worx) who leapfrogged her teammate Demi Vollering to take victory on the stage and overall by attacking solo.
Van Vleuten entered the final stage in fifth place with a 1:11 deficit on Vollering and a gap of just 15 seconds to Reusser, who at the start of the stage was sitting in second place. To try and move up the leaderboard the 40-year-old attacked on the final climb to Mendizorrotz, but was unable to drop Vollering who sat in her wheel until the summit.
“They played it well. They didn’t have to attack on the final climb and I had to,” said Van Vleuten. “I just go all out and I took the downhill quite safe so maybe they took some time back there. I went full gas hoping there was no response in the group behind.”
Despite momentarily separating herself from Vollering on the descent, Van Vleuten was forced to do all the work on the front again and with a 28.6km run into Donostia, it’s no surprise the chasing trio of Reusser, Kasia Niewiadoma (Canyon SRAM) and Olivia Baril (UAE ADQ) were able to catch back on in the final 14km.
Van Vleuten was awarded the combativity prize for her efforts both on the climb and in chasing Reusser after she went solo with 12.8km remaining. But it was no fairytale end for the Dutchwoman racing in a part of the world she’s had significant success throughout her decorated career.
“I raced the Emakumeen Bira so many times and always had super nice times here with racing,” Van Vleuten said.
“I’m a little bit sad I’m taking a break with many more nice races coming up like Durango and Eibar. I would love to race them, but in this period of the year I really need a break after a tough Spring Classics block.”
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