Cycling has known great strategies. These movements planned in the morning at breakfast, when the sports director imagines himself as Napoleon in front of the Pratzen plateau, before fighting battle at Austerlitz. Often, these projects smash against the wall of reality, that of the race, of the superiority of the adversaries. Except when your name is Annemiek van Vleuten.
The 39-year-old Dutchwoman knew where, when and how she would win this first Tour de France Women. To know from the foot of the Petit Ballon, Saturday July 30, and by charging saber in the clear. Regardless of the 80 kilometres, regardless of her competitors, she had made an appointment. And the leader of the Movistar team is the punctual type.
Aude Biannic can testify to this. The Frenchwoman describes her boss as demanding and methodical: “She is very square. When she says she’s going to attack there, she’s following the plan to the letter. I had to throw it at the foot and I had no interest in missing myself”admits the Breton.
She in front, the others far behind. Annemiek Van Vleuten stunned a competition yet accustomed to her staging. “We knew what she was going to do, we tried to follow her, but she’s just too strong”, summarizes his compatriot Pauliena Rooijakkers (Canyon-SRAM Racing). “I would like to be sick like Annemiek van Vleuten! She’s really impressive.” continues the French Juliette Labous, brilliant fourth but very far (7 minutes and 28 seconds) from a Van Vleuten well recovered from her gastric problems of the first days.
The Dutch has regained her appetite. On Sunday, she treated herself to the super plank of Belles-Filles (Haute-Saône), but with a start at the foot of the ascent. The style is more about efficiency than about aesthetics. As a dancer on her bike, the climber swings from right to left and sometimes gives the impression of climbing with a bag of cement on her back. But the pedaling rhythm is diabolical and stifles any attempt to cling to its wheel.
“Eliminate the superfluous kilos of the evenings”
To tell the truth, the success of the leader of Movistar does not surprise anyone. Freed from competition from Anna van der Breggen, the other “climbing Dutchwoman” and young retiree from the peloton, the former footballer advanced with the favorite sign hanging on her jersey, especially after her victory in July in the Tour d ‘Italy.
As she approaches her forties (October 8), Annemiek Van Vleuten has a five-star record, between two world champion titles, an Olympic gold medal in the time trial (Tokyo 2021), three Giros and two Tours of Flanders.
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