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Setmana Ciclista Volta Comunitat Valenciana: Annemiek van Vleuten conquers ‘queen stage’

Van Vleuten wins stage 3 with solo move on summit finish to secure GC lead ahead of final day of racing.

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Defending champion Annemiek van Vleuten romped to solo victory in the “queen stage” of the Setmana Ciclista Volta Comunitat Valenciana on Saturday.

The Dutchwoman punched away from an attack quartet on the double-kicking summit finish to Vistabella del Maestrat to take command of GC ahead of the final stage.

Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig (FDJ-Nouvelle Aquitaine-Futuroscope) led the chasers to finish second ahead of teammate Marta Cavalli, who crossed the line third.

Van Vleuten’s dominant 1:07 winning margin over Uttrup Ludwig vaults her to the top of GC, with the Danish climber second overall, more than one-minute back.

The peloton thinned almost from the start of Saturday’s mountain stage when a series of crashes saw a number of riders abandon.

A dangerous split snuck away over the first of the day’s three cat 1 climbs, but the bunch was quick to reel them in, and the race was still together midway through the stage.

Four riders finally split away after some 100km of racing, but they didn’t last long as the peloton sat poised for the decisive attacks as the roads started tilting upward for the double summit finale.

The GC pack exploded when the break was reeled in on the penultimate climb.

Annemiek Van Vleuten cranked the pace, drawing out Mavi Garcia (UAE Team ADQ) and FDJ-Nouvelle Aquitaine-Futuroscope pair Uttrup Ludwig and Cavalli.

Once the four went clear, Van Vleuten didn’t wait long to make her decisive move.

The Dutchwoman distanced her breakaway rivals across the Callao summit and took a 25-second lead over the three chasers into the final Vistabella del Maestrat climb. Van Vleuten didn’t let off all the way through to the line, extending her advantage to around one-minute as she climbed into the overall lead of the race.

Uttrup Ludwig dropped Cavalli and Garcia mid-way up the Maestrat ascent to score second on the stage while attempting to limit her losses to van Vleuten on GC.

The four-day race wraps up with a sprinter stage into Valencia on Sunday.

If van Vleuten retains her GC lead she’ll become both the first back-to-back winner and the first to take two overall victories at the Setmana stage race.

Will the Movistar megastar hold on to her 1:05 advantage over Uttrup Ludwig? It’s hard to bet against it.

Results will be available once stage has completed.

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