Annemiek van Vleuten (Movistar) won the uphill individual time trial of the Ceratizit Challenge by La Vuelta, making it her tenth win of the season. She covered the 7.3km up the Estacion de Montana de Manzaneda in 19’08, leaping up the general classification, but couldn’t quite get into the lead: Marlen Reusser (Ale BTC Ljubljana) defended her red jersey fiercely. Despite talking down her chances after her stage-win yesterday, Reusser came in only nineteen seconds behind van Vleuten, taking second place on the stage. Van Vleuten now sits in third in the general classification, 1’39” behind Reusser.
Marta Cavalli (FDJ – Nouvelle Aquitaine Futuroscope) rounded out the top three with a time of 19’35; Kristen Faulkner (Team Tibco – Silicon Valley Bank) came fourth, at 19’56”. After that, they were all over twenty minutes: Leah Thomas, van Vleuten’s teammate in Movistar, came in fifth at 20’7”. Thomas’ fierce pace was shown by the fact that Anna van der Breggen (SD Worx), the reigning time-trial world champion – and oddly enough, wearing an unzipped skinsuit – had set off a minute before Thomas, but Thomas was only seconds behind her as they approached the line.
Team DSM also had two riders in the top ten, with Juliette Labour in sixth at 20’8”, and Liane Lippert in seventh, at 20’23” – both of whom also squeezed into the top ten in the general classification.
Kasia Niewiadoma (Canyon//SRAM Racing) came in eighth, at 20’28”; Urska Zigart (Team BikeExchange) came in ninth at 20’31”, setting one of the fastest times early on; and finishing off the top ten, Pauliena Rooijakkers (Liv Racing), one of the members of yesterday’s breakaway, moved up to second place in the general classification with a time of 20’32”, maintaining a slim lead of three seconds over Annemiek van Vleuten.
After her win, van Vleuten said that it was good to be back to time-trialling, after her gold medal in Tokyo: “It’s nice to win a stage, nice to win the time trial – I came in on my Tokyo time trial bike, so it was nice catching up with my time trial bike, after really nice moments in Tokyo with this bike.”
Asked about her chances in the general classification, with Reusser having over a minute and a half on her, with two stages left, van Vleuten said that she was looking forward to the challenge.
“I’m really excited for tomorrow, because in general, I don’t like a defending style of racing. I also struggle sometimes a little bit with stage races because I have to defend. In my heart, I’m not a defender, I’m an attacker, so I’m more a one-day racer, and I don’t like to race conservative, and tomorrow, I have nothing to lose and everything to win.”
She predicted excitement for tomorrow’s stage: “I hope other teams also think like that, so we are not going to give it as a present to Marlen Reusser, and I hope also that we can put up a good show for the people that are watching it, that it will be a super exciting race tomorrow, because it has the ingredients to make it really hard to take the win.”