The top favorite for the start of the Strade Bianche: world champion Annemiek Van Vleuten. The Dutchman drove everything and everyone in the past weeks, and had all the stars behind her name today.
After a quick start to the match, with some small injections, it was a while before a leading group really emerged. After a blisteringly fast passage on gravel strip 5 (with 9.5 km the longest), there were only 40 riders who did not get lost in the dust. In addition, all favorites.
But those favorites were suddenly surprised at 50 km from the finish when some outsiders, including Ellen van Dijk, Mavi Garcia and Lisa Brennauer, Leah Thomas and Amanda Spratt, beat each other together. A group of 11 arose, which was quickly reduced to 0, as Garcia shot away like an arrow from an arc.
The Spanish soon drove a lead of 3’30 “, the peloton followed more than 5 minutes. Van Vleuten and the other clappers seemed to be knocked (although the organization’s intermediate times were not always 100% correct).
Garcia steamed on happily and nothing seemed to stand in the way of her victory. Until suddenly … Yes, there Van Vleuten came like a devil out of a box into the chasing group. Teammate Spratt had been released in the meantime, so it was no longer necessary to wait. She took the lead, got everyone off the wheel and went looking for Garcia.
The Dutch kept up with the Spanish surprise of the day and took her to the last kilometer. On the final slope towards the finish, an ultimate demarrage was sufficient to floor Garcia. A second consecutive victory on the Italian gravel was a fact.