PLANCHE DES BELLES FILLES, France — Veteran rider Annemiek van Vleuten won the women’s Tour de France for the first time on Sunday after winning the eighth and final stage in style.
Van Vleuten, 39, won the stage 30 seconds ahead of fellow Dutchwoman Demi Vollering, who also finished the race second overall. Italian rider Silvia Persico finished third in the stage, 1 minute and 43 seconds behind the winner.
In the general classification, the Movistar Van Vleuten rider was 3:48 ahead of Vollering (Team SD Worx) and 6:35 over the Polish rider Katarzyna Niewiadoma (Canyon-SRAM) in third position.
Van Vleuten had just about enough energy to hit the air with joy as he crossed the line after the 123-kilometre (76-mile) mountain stage in the Vosges of eastern France. It featured two Category 1 climbs, with the second climb being the end-of-stage hike to La Super Planche des Belles Filles, which ended with a daunting 23% gradient.
She entered the final stage with a 3:14 lead over Vollering.
On Saturday’s penultimate stage, Van Vleuten rose from eighth overall to take the yellow jersey from Marianne Vos with another stunning climb in the Vosges.
Van Vleuten added the victory to a long list of achievements, including three Giro d’Italia Femminile titles, an Olympic gold medal in the time trial and two world championship gold medals in the same discipline.
Six years ago her career was in jeopardy when she suffered broken spines and was placed in intensive care after falling during the women’s Olympic road race at the Games in Brazil.
Vos was among the favourites, but the three-time Giro d’Italia champion ended up in 26th place overall.