• Annemiek van Vleuten (Mitchelton-Scott) and Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma) win the 2020 Strade Bianche (Getty Images)Source: Getty Images
Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma) and Annemiek van Vleuten (Mitchelton-Scott) stormed to victory in the men's and women's Strade Bianche yesterday as WorldTour racing returned after a five-month coronavirus induced break.
Cycling Central

Reuters, Mitchelton-Scott
2 Aug 2020 - 8:59 AM  UPDATED 5 Aug 2020 - 10:08 AM

Who could forget the image of Wout van Aert lying on the ground two years ago totally spent after giving his all on the final dig in Siena?

But he missed out on victory to Tiesj Benoot and second place to Romain Bardet. 

Or his suffering from massive cramps?

One more third place finish (in 2019) and a daring solo raid this edition and the Belgian sat on the ground again totally exhausted, but this time as conqueror of the 184 kilometre race over the white gravel Tuscan roads. 

Van Aert launched his decisive solo attack with 13km remaining on the final sector of gravel road.

The 25-year-old finished 30 seconds clear of Italian Davide Formolo (UAE Emirates) on the Piazza del Campo in Siena, while German Maximilian Schachmann (Bora-Hansgrohe) took third spot.

“Today was one long day of suffering and nobody felt that great. The heat was exhausting but I really focussed on hydration and keeping cool and, in the end, I got something left,” Van Aert said.

“I really fell in love with this race two years ago and it was my goal to win. I’m 25 and I’ve already done it. I’m really happy.”

Dutchwoman Annemiek van Vleuten won the women’s race for a second consecutive year as she continued her winning run after the resumption of the season.

But winning every race she has started in the rainbow jersey counted for little as she fought her way to the chasing group that contained Mitchelton-Scott colleague Amanda Spratt, from the peloton. 

In the closing stages, the 37-year-old then chased down Spaniard Margarita Victoria Garcia (Ale BTC Ljubljan), who led the race solo 45kms from the finish.

World road champion Van Vleuten went on to drop her rival on the Via Santa Caterina before cruising to the finish line.

“Everything hard is good for me and is bad for my opponents, so I just think ‘I love the heat’.

“I’ve got so many emotions today, at first, I thought I came here for nothing," the world champion said. "I couldn’t make my attack as my teammate Amanda was in front, and then suddenly (Garcia) is away, a really strong rider then I had to go full on the attack, so there were a lot of emotions.

“The speed was out of the group and then suddenly my team director said ‘Annemiek time for action’ just before the second to last gravel section, that was really uphill. That was actually the moment I had in my head to attack from the group in front hopefully, but now I had to attack there to close the gap.

“The Piazza del Campo is the most beautiful finish for me to win. I didn’t think I would catch Mavi Garcia and I believe the whole scenario made it a very spectacular race."