Dutchwoman Annemiek van Vleuten staged a classic late attack to win the world championship road race in a stunning finish on Saturday despite nursing a fractured elbow throughout the 164.3-km race.
The 39-year-old was a major doubt for the race after sustaining the injury in a crash in the mixed relay on Wednesday and rode through pain to claim the rainbow jersey for the second time after 2019.
Van Vleuten had been buried in the peloton for most of the race but came out of nowhere to sweep to the front as the sprinters were jockeying for position on the other side of the road about 500 metres from the finish line.
“I knew that I couldn’t sprint because of my el-bow so I knew that I had to attack from behind, that was the only, only, only chance that I had,” she said. “I was waiting and waiting and waiting for the sprinters to come but they couldn’t catch me.”
Belgian Lotte Kopecky finished second with Italian Silvia Persico third, both cursing themselves after being completely outmanoeuvred by their Dutch rival.
Van Vleuten clocked four hours, 24 minutes and 25 seconds over a course that ran along the Pacific coast from Helensburgh to Wollongong on Austra-lia’s eastern seaboard south of Sydney.
“It was hell,” said the Olympic time trial cham-pion. “I couldn’t go out of the saddle because of my elbow and my legs were exploding on the climbs. Normally, I really like to go out of the saddle and attack.
“I had such a different plan before I broke my elbow and now I win it in the last kilometre and I’m world champion.”—Reuters