Annemiek van Vleuten of the Netherlands has won the rainbow jersey in Harrogate today in what may well be the finest ever solo victory in any edition of the UCI Road Cycling World Championships, attacking more than 100 kilometres from the end of the race in Harrogate.
Three years ago, the 37-year-old seemed poised to win Olympic gold in Rio but crashed on the final descent. Today, as North Yorkshire basked in sunshine for the first time this week, she never looked like being caught.
Compatriot Anna van der Breggen finished second 2 minutes 15 seconds later, with Australia’s Amanda Spratt taking the bronze medal.
After winning the rainbow jersey for the first time on the road - she is a two-time world champion in the time trial - van Vleuten said: “That was crazy. I knew the climb was really far from the finish but once I’d attacked my coach told me to keep riding hard and I was lucky I had really good legs.
"It was definitely not planned but I’d trained so hard for this – put in so many hours on the bike – and I thought ‘if anyone can do this, it’s you’.
"As I was riding I was thinking ‘maybe I could make history today’, and if it didn’t work out I knew Anna [van der Breggen] was in a great position behind.
“It was only towards the end that I dared to believe, and I was being cheered on by so many fans. The crowds in Bradford were huge at the start and I had so much encouragement out on the course as well.
"British fans are amazing and I want to thank them all for helping make this win so amazing.”
Simon has been news editor at road.cc since 2009, reporting on 10 editions and counting of pro cycling’s biggest races such as the Tour de France, stories on issues including infrastructure and campaigning, and interviewing some of the biggest names in cycling. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, his background has proved invaluable in reporting on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, and the bike industry. He splits his time between London and Cambridge, and loves taking his miniature schnauzer Elodie on adventures in the basket of her Elephant Bike.