Van Vleuten won Stage 4 of the Giro Donne on Monday (AEST) after a powerful attack on the final climb.
She could only be matched by Mavi Garcia (UAE Team ADQ) who eventually finished one second behind her, and Marti Cavalli (FDJ Nouvelle-Aquitaine Futuroscope) who was unable to hold onto the lightning fast duo and crossed the line in third, 43 seconds behind van Vleuten.
Van Vleuten’s attack sent shockwaves through the rest of the peloton who finished almost five, or more, minutes behind the formidable Dutchwoman. Amanda Spratt (BikeExchange-Jayco) was the best placed Australian in fifth.
“Personally I’m actually really happy,” Spratt said after the stage.
“It’s the first time I’ve seen the legs back at that really good level again since the surgery.”
Spratt had surgery for iliac artery endofibrosis in October last year, a condition where thickening of the artery reduces blood flow and, consequently, power on the bike. It’s also a condition that demands a slow and persistent recovery.
Spratt’s performance on Stage 4 of the Giro Donne moves her into an impressive sixth place overall.
Already one of the most prestigious stage races in the Women’s World Tour, this year’s Giro Donne is also a sign of exciting things to come in the Tour de France Femmes, where the racing will be broadcast to a bigger audience than ever before.
“[It] will really give a big opportunity for the women to be seen worldwide, to have a wonderful race, so that's really great,” said UCI President David Lappartient of the inaugural Tour de France Femmes earlier this week.
The women’s event will start in Paris on 24 July, the same day the men’s event finishes.
“To have the start of this race on the finishing day for the Tour de France, it will give a massive window for the world. So, I'm very happy with it,” said Lappartient.
From Paris, the race will head east. Short, steep climbs will feature in the middle of the eight-stage race before the bigger mountains feature in the final two days.
The Tour de France Femmes will finish with an all out battle up La Super Planche des Belles Filles.