Gold medalist and world champion winner Annemiek Van Vleuten of Netherlands 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. (Photo by Tim de Waele/Getty Images)


Annemiek van Vleuten Defies The Odds For Brilliant World Championship Win

Annemiek van Vleuten has enjoyed what many are describing as her career-best victory, the Rainbow Jersey At The 2022 World Championships in Wollongong.

Already the winner of the three major women’s races of this year, van Vleuten raced with a heavily bandaged broken elbow after her serious crash in the Team Time Trial on Wednesday.

“I still cannot believe it,” said a still surprised van Vleuten after crossing the line.

“I still wait for the moment someone tells me its not true,” she continued. 

“I was working for Mariana (Vos) today. I then found myself in the group and my only chance was to attack from behind. I was waiting and waiting and they didn’t catch me. I thought it was impossible with a broken elbow.”

“On the climb I I couldn’t get out of the saddle,”she continued. “My legs were exploding on the climb.”

It was van Vlueten’s second world championship victory, having also won in 2019 in Yorkshire. It was her latest in a series of major 2022 wins that include the inaugural Tour de France Femmes, the Women’s Giro & Vuelta.  This year she also won Liege-Bastogne-Liege Femmes and Omloop Het Nieuwsblad WE, plus finished second at Strade Bianche Donne.

Annemiek van Vleuten crosses the line for her 2nd World Championship win – the 2022 Elite Women’s Road Race in Wollongong. Image: Sirotti

Hindered By A Broken Elbow

Van Vleuten said prior to Wednesday’s crash, today’s race plan was completely different.

“But instead I rode this race today as a domestique for teammate Marianne Vos,” she continued. 

“I was super disappointed with the TTT crash because I am retiring at the end of 2023 … now I will fully enjoy next year.”

How History Unfolded

With the final 30km raced at speed in wet and slippery conditions, the Elite Women’s Road Race proved to be one of the most thrilling one-day races of the year. 

With well under 2km to go the front group of five riders were being hounded by the chasing eight – the thirteen going all in for the Rainbow Jersey.

All back together at 1000m to go, van Vleuten was the final rider of the group. Using that position to her advantage, the 39yo surged past the 12 others.

Blindsiding them, she sprinted clear, held them at bay for 500m, and crossed the line several bike lengths ahead of second-placed Lotte Kopecky of Belgium and (3rd) Silvia Persico of Italy.

Annemiek said during the last lap she got out of the saddle and lost all feeling of the pain. “I just had to go,” she said. “After I broke my elbow I didn’t think for one second I could win this. All my visions for the Rainbow Jersey were gone, but I managed to get in the group and won it.”

Her Final Year As A Pro

Already clearly stating that 2023 will be her final year as a pro, she said to be riding in the Rainbow Jersey for the next 12-months “will be the best.”

“I was looking at next years Worlds course – mainly the altitude – and realised this is my best chance,” she said.

“I was World Champion during Covid, so could not race too much. But I did train a lot in the jersey.”

Explaining how she prefers to focus on the positives, Van Vleuten said many people get stuck in the ‘what happened’.

“But it’s way better to focus on what’s possible, and look forward not backwards,” she said. 

“I think that’s a skill I’ve developed quite well.”

She concluded by saying “I can now say goodbye to Wollongong with a good feeling.”


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