She may not have been the Dutch cyclist of choice to clinch a European gold in the women’s road race, but Ellen van Dijk has pulled off an emphatic victory in Trento to win her second medal at the 2021 European Championships.
With a flurry of Dutch riders on the start line for the elite road race, all eyes were on defending champion Annemiek van Vleuten to continue their dominance in cycling. But – to the surprise of some – it was to be teammate van Dijk to steal the show.
The Dutch was part of a four-woman breakaway, when she decided to attack solo with just over 20km to go. She dropped Soraya Paladin and began to put daylight between her and the chasers, with Germany’s Liane Lippert and Poland’s Katarzyna Niewiadoma trying to bridge the gap in the latter stages of the race. But van Dijk’s lead was ultimately too great.
Lippert won the bunch sprint to finish in second, over a minute on from the new champion, while Lithuania’s Rasa Leleivyte crossed the line in third.
Van Vleuten couldn’t quite replicate her form from last year, finishing in 9th while teammate Demi Vollering finished in 5th.
The 2021 European Road Championships will conclude tomorrow (Sunday 12) with the men’s elite road race.