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Durango-Durango: Van Vleuten completes hat trick with solo victory

World champion remains unbeaten in 2020, taking three victories in four days in Spain.

There’s certainly no “rainbow curse” on Annamiek van Vleuten (Mitchelton-Scott), who remains unbeaten in 2020.

The world champion won her fourth race this season – and third in just four days – with a breakaway victory at the Durango-Durango Emakumeen Saria Sunday.

The Dutchwoman made her move on the steep final climb of the race and held off a late chase from Anna van der Breggen (Boels-Dolmans) and Elisa Longo Borghini (Trek-Segafredo), who took second and third place respectively.

“I cannot remember winning four races in a row, actually five, because the world championships started it,” Van Vleuten said. “I don’t want to be arrogant; it is unbelievable for me to win these three races; I cannot have believed this would have happened.”

Sunday’s race marked the final of a trio of lower-category Spanish one-day races, with Emakumeen Nafarroako Klasikoa Thursday and Clásica Femenina Navarra Friday. Though COVID concerns snatched the headlines before the racing started last week, van Vleuten’s domination through the hilly Spanish events will remain a talking point with the racing season due to get into full swing next week.

Sunday’s 113-kilometer race started off flat and controlled, but as the climbs kicked in with around 30km to go, the action hotted up with Maaike Boogaard and Mavi Garcia of Alé BTC Ljubjana the first to make moves.

The pair were swept up by an elite group of around 15 riders at the top of the penultimate climb of the day, with van Vleuten, van der Breggen, Longo Borghini, Clara Koppenburg (Equipe Paule Ka) and Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio (CCC-Liv) all in the mix.

The decisive action came shortly afterward on the final climb of the day, which topped out with just 10km to the line.

“I attacked at the start with the first steep part of the final climb and then Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio surprised me with a really, really big attack, but actually I could follow her, then she blew half-way up the steep climb, so I could take over and go my own speed to the top,” van Vleuten recalled.

Van Vleuten crested the climb alone, with long-time rival van der Breggen in fierce pursuit around 10 seconds behind. The Mitchelton-Scott rider was able to stay cool through the descent to drop into Durango and take the victory by 18 seconds.

 

“Anna (Van der Breggen) was just behind me between 10 and 15 seconds so I had to go full gas on the descent,” van Vleuten said. “I had a bit of a flashback to La Course and last year in the Giro, so it was a really interesting fight between Anna and me. I could not relax on the descent or really enjoy it, but it was a beautiful final.

“To win every race in the jersey; for sure I cannot keep this record but for now it is nice. At first, they wanted to interview me about the curse of the rainbow jersey, but I am really happy I don’t have that curse.”

Having also taken victory at the very start of the season with an emphatic win at Omloop Het Nieuwsblad in February, van Vlueten returns to WorldTour racing at Strade Bianche on Saturday with the wind in her sails. With her teammate Amanda Spratt playing a key team role in Sunday’s race and finishing eighth, the Mitchelton-Scott team will be one to be reckoned with on the dirt roads of Tuscany.

“A big shout out to Amanda Spratt today,” van Vleuten said. “She was always offensive always there and it is always nice to see her there and we can go to Strade Bianche now with confidence,”

Durango-Durango Emakumeen Saria results

  1. Annamiek van Vleuten (Mitchelton-Scott):  02:51:17
  2. Anna van der Breggen (Boels-Dolmans): +0:00:18
  3. Elisa Longo Borghini (Trek-Segafredo): +0:01:05