Van Vleuten claims road race gold

Gold medallist Van Vleuten, (C), silver medallist Anna van der Breggen (L) and bronze medallist Amanda Spratt celebrate on the podium

Annemiek van Vleuten soloed to a superb victory in the women’s elite race at the UCI Road World Championships in Harrogate.

The fairytale story for Lizzie Deignan was not to be as she chased her second rainbow jersey on home roads in Yorkshire.

Dutchwoman Van Vleuten rode alone for a little over 100km of the 149km route through the Yorkshire Dales after attacking on the climb of Lofthouse, and produced a stunning ride to keep the chasing pack comfortably at bay.

Deignan will long remember leading the peloton through her home town of Otley early in the day, but when the racing picked up on the finishing circuit around Harrogate the 30-year-old, a year removed from becoming a mother, paid the price for hard work done leading the chase.

The 2015 world champion – who spent most of the day in a select group chasing Van Vleuten – ultimately finished in the pack, crossing the line 31st, five minutes, 20 seconds down.

It was a first world road race title for the 36-year-old Van Vleuten, who was world time trial champion in 2017 and 2018 before giving up her title to American Chloe Dygert earlier this week.

Dygert was firmly in the action here too, and it was her attacks on the first of three laps of the 14km finishing circuit that left Deignan behind as the eight-strong group which had set off after Van Vleuten on Lofthouse finally splintered.

The 22-year-old Dygert, an established star on the track but a revelation this week on the road, looked good for silver as she pulled clear, but she too ran out of legs and was caught and passed by defending world champion Anna van der Breggen and Amanda Spratt with 10km to go.

Van der Breggen, for so long excused the hard work of the chase with her team-mate up the road, left the Australian behind on the final ascent of the Oak Beck climb to make it a Dutch one-two.

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