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Annemiek Van Vleuten takes red jersey after stunning solo attack to win stage three of Ceratizit Challenge Madrid

Annemiek Van Vleuten takes red jersey after stunning solo attack to win stage three of Ceratizit Challenge Madrid

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Movistar’s Annemiek Van Vleuten made a stunning solo attack to win stage three of Ceratizit Challenge by La Vuelta 21 by over two-and-a-half minutes on Saturday, and takes the lead of the general classification.

Van Vleuten, 38, who wear’s the Women’s World Tour purple leader’s jersey, increased her lead to over three minutes ahead of the chase group with 12km of the 108km hilly course to go.

The red jersey group cut up to 30 seconds into her lead on numerous occasions, but the Dutchwoman continued to respond keeping gap as wide as possible, while the peloton were over four minutes behind.

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Sunweb’s Liane Lippert came in 2:48 minutes behind to take second, with Kasia Niewiadoma third.

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The defining attack started at 60km to go Van Vleuten, Elisa Longo Borghini, Niewiadoma, Kata Blanka Vas breaking away from the peloton. Longo Borghini and Van Vleuten accelerated the pace at the front to become a group of two after 5km, 30 seconds ahead of the chase group.

Van Vleuten, then attacked again to go solo with 50km to go for the remainder of the hilly course, as the route ascended from the mountain resort of Manzaneda to Pereiro de Aguiar. In doing so, she cemented her lead and secured the red jersey with plenty of time to spare.

“I had a lot of altitude training recently so I knew I was not super well rested coming into the race,” Van Vleuten said in a post-race interview. “I felt great I had a really good plan with the team, I knew the tricky downhill and I knew that was the moment, and I had a good time to attack. Kasia Niewiadoma [and the others] couldn’t follow and I thought maybe it is possible.

“After the first day I thought we had lost it [the GC lead] but also I tried once or twice. To win the GC I need a really strong team. I need to be focused tomorrow with my team to defend.”

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Marlen Reusser of Ale’BTC Ljubljana, led the general classification with a stage one victory, and went into stage three with a one minute 36 second lead, but Van Vleuten’s lead puts her comfortably ahead going into Sunday’s final stage by 1:34.

Sunday’s final stage of the five-stage race is a flat 107km course from As Pontes to Santiago de Compostela.

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