WOLLONGONG, AUSTRALIA - SEPTEMBER 24: Gold medalist and world champion winner Annemiek Van Vleuten of Netherlands, kiss her trophy on the podium during the medal ceremony after the 95th UCI Road World Championships 2022 - Women Elite Road Race a 164,3km one day race from Wollongong to Wollongong / #Wollongong2022 / on September 24, 2022 in Wollongong, Australia. (Photo by Con Chronis/Getty Images)

Annemiek van Vleuten takes thrilling Elite Women's Road Race

After fracturing her elbow earlier this week, Annemiek van Vleuten rode an incredible race, to take her second ever road world championship.

In a thrilling end to an exciting race, Annemiek van Vleuten took the women's world championship.

The lead up to this race for van Vleuten was nothing short of disappointing, as she opened her time in Wollongong by failing to add to her four individual time trial medals.

From here, things turned to worse, as she crashed during the start of her leg of the mixed team time trial, fracturing her elbow.

With a fractured elbow, van Vleuten had accepted that her role in the race would be nothing but as a domestique, supporting Marrianne Vos.

The race itself got underway in Helensburg, with a neutral zone ride of seven kilometres, before getting underway.

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Things started early as riders such as Josie Talbot and Nicole Koller made early attempts at moves, only to be closed in by the peloton.

The first move to get away from the peloton was that by Gladys Verhulst, getting just over a minutes lead as they entered the Mount Keira loop.

She kept her distance up the climb, but was caught back on the descent by the rest of the peloton.

There were a couple of other attacks, but the main one was one headlined by Elynor Bäckstedt, who got her and her companions out to a 1:30 lead, and kept ahead for around 40km until being chased down with efforts mostly from the Italian team.

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After the repeated climbs of Mount Pleasant thinned out the peloton, Liane Lippert made a big attack up the final climb, and many of the major contenders made their moves to get into that group with her. However, the Netherlands failed to get any of their riders into that group.

The leading group split quickly as Lippert and Elisa Longo Borghini got a slight lead over Ludwig, Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio and Katarzyna Niewiadoma.

Elise Chabbey and Niamh Fisher-Black made their efforts to get in behind this group, but ended up failing in their efforts.

Taking the turn down into the University of Wollongong, the second group rejoined the first. With a lap to go, these groups now had to turn their attention to another chasing group, led by Ellen van Dijk.

As they entered the final gap, the group held 23 seconds over the chasers as the Australians joined the Dutch team trying to take the bulk of the chasing workload.

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The teamwork from the Dutch and Australian riders continued to bring down the gap closer and closer. As they approached Mount Pleasant for one final side, the break only held a very narrow lead at the foot of the climb.

Reusser made an attack, and gained around 15 seconds, before being chased back down, as the group continued to ride to what felt like an almost inevitable sprint finish.

With the chasing group joining the leaders, and getting ready for a sprint, Annemiek van Vleuten made her final move, and with no response coming from the others, rode to the finish alone for the rainbow jersey.

When asked after the race, Kopecky regretted not being able to close down the van Vleuten final attack immediately.

“Annemiek had the perfect moment, and we made a mistake and didn’t react immediately," she said.

“It was a very smart and good attack.”

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Van Vleuten on the other hand was very proud of her victory, but said it was unexpected.

“I think maybe this is my best victory in my whole career," she commented.

“The whole week I’ve been through a lot – it’s quite a story.

“I was 100 per cent committed to riding domestique for Marianne Vos – I wasn’t thinking about winning until the last kilometre."