The fifth edition of the Lotto Belgium Tour ended today with a stage in Geraardsbergen. Annemiek van Vleuten, who rode for the Dutch national team, soloed to the victory on the Vesten. She deprived Marianne Vos (RaboLiv) of the overall victory.
The first part of the 97.27 kilometres long stage was animated by Alexandra Nessmar of the Lares Waowdeals team. She attacked in the big loop of sixty kilometres and started the first ascent of the Muur as leader of the race. At that moment Dani Christmas (Isorex) had set up a counterattack. On the Muur the favourites came to the front, like Elisa Longo Borghini (Wiggle High 5), Marianne Vos (RaboLiv) and Annemiek van Vleuten. A few kilometres further both Christmas and Nessmar got caught by a large group with among others Emma Johansson (Wiggle High 5), Elisa Longo Borghini, Lotte Kopecky (Lotto Soudal Ladies), Sofie De Vuyst (Lotto Soudal Ladies), Lisa Brennauer (CANYON SRAM), Lucinda Brand (RaboLiv), GC leader Marianne Vos (RaboLiv) and van Vleuten. This group of 31 riders rode towards the second ascent of the Muur together. On the climb Longo Borghini and van Vleuten left their companions behind. Afterwards van Vleuten went solo on the Bosberg. She gathered a lead of more than one minute. On the Vesten Marta Bastianelli (Alé Cipollini) sprinted to the second place, 1’04” after the finish of van Vleuten. Belgian champion Kaat Hannes got third.
Annemiek van Vleuten was already the fastest in the prologue on Tuesday in Nieuwpoort. On GC she has 1’04” advantage on Marianne Vos and 1’10” on Lucinda Brand. A complete Dutch podium. Van Vleuten already won this race once, in 2014. This is a wonderful comeback after her crash in Rio.
Annemiek van Vleuten: “This week’s performance really came as a surprise. This is beyond all expectations. After my victory in the prologue the coach and I decided that I would spare myself on the next two stages so that I would still be fresh for this last stage. It was the plan that I would attack on the Bosberg, but I had never thought we would only be ahead with two riders. It was a great feeling to ride solo towards the finish. I really enjoyed the moment. If I could have picked a day to win this week, it would have been today. I love riding on this course and there is always a great atmosphere here in Geraardsbergnen.”
“It’s wonderful that I’m already so strong. The doctor told me it was pretty soon to start competing again but he said I could if I felt good. This performance really boosts my confidence. Monday I’m leaving for Sicily together with Marianne Vos for a training camp of two and a half weeks. In the meantime I will race Giro dell’Emilia and Gran Premio Bruno Beghelli on 24 and 25 September. That will be my preparation for the World Championships. I hope to be selected for the time trial, then that will be my main goal. I won’t take part in the European Championships next week. I thought I wouldn’t be fit enough, but it turns out I am. But I’m focussing on Qatar now, also in the road race we stand a chance with our team.”
Apart from the Lotto leader’s jersey five other jerseys were at stake as well. Lotte Kopecky conquered two: the one of best Belgian rider and the one of best young rider. Kopecky got fourth overall, at 1’16” of van Vleuten. Marianne Vos won the rushes and the points classification. Alexandra Nessmar gathered the necessary points for the mountains jersey today and she also got the prize of most combative rider of the day.