'Proud' van Vleuten wins women's Tour de France

·3-min read

An ecstatic Annemiek van Vleuten said she was "very proud" to be the winner of the inaugural women's Tour de France after her perfectly judged ride secured her victory in Sunday's eighth and final stage.

The 39-year-old Movistar rider, who grabbed the lead with a brilliant solo performance in the mountains on Saturday, bided her time in the peloton on the 123km route from Lure to La Planche des Belles Filles in the Vosges before powering up the final climb to seal her triumph.

She crossed the line 30 seconds ahead of fellow Dutch rider Demi Vollering (SD Worx) who took second overall, 3min 48 behind her compatriot.

Polish rider Katarzyna Niewiadoma (Canyon/SRAM) came third in the final standings after a fourth place finish on Sunday's stage.

"That is a dream come true: winning in yellow, on top," said a delighted van Vleuten.

It marked a big moment for women's cycling which has flirted with versions of a Tour de France in the past, each of them short-lived.

This new version began in Paris a week ago just hours before Jonas Vingegaard claimed victory on the Champs-Elysees in the men's Tour de France. It has attracted good crowds on the route and strong television coverage, suggesting that the race may finally be here to stay.

"I am so proud to be the first woman to win this new version," said van Vleuten who can add the crown to her many other titles, including three Giro d'Italia wins and Olympic time-trial gold in Tokyo last year.

"I hope it is a big start for more and that we can build this event to a bigger one for women.

"Finally I can really enjoy it. Yesterday was an unbelievable day but I still wanted to keep the focus and not to celebrate.

"Now I can finally go for ice cream and pizza tonight and celebrate with the team. Sometimes we take too little time to celebrate, it (cycling) always continues.

"But tonight I can celebrate without thinking about tomorrow."

- Crippling climb -

Van Vleuten began the 123km final stage with a 3min 14sec lead over Vollering which was never in danger in spite of having a mechanical problem with her bike 57km from the finish which required several swaps.

The yellow jersey group reeled in the 11-rider breakaway with five kilometres to go at which point van Vleuten climbed out of her saddle and began powering her way up the final crippling climb.

Vollering responded bravely, as she had on Saturday, but could not close the gap although the 25-year-old at least had the consolation of winning the Queen of the Mountains polka dot jersey.

Valcar rider Silvia Persico of Italy took third on the stage, crossing the line just ahead of Niewiadoma.

Apart from the success of van Vleuten and Vollering, the Dutch had even more success to toast as they swept the individual honours on the race.

Marianne Vos (Jumbo-Visma), who won two stages and had five podiums in the first six stages, lost more than 13 minutes to van Vleuten on Sunday but did enough to hold on to the points green jersey while Shirin van Anrooij (Trek-Segafredo) was best young rider. Canyon/SRAM Racing won the team event.

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