Movistar's Annemiek van Vleuten won her second Tour of Flanders title on Sunday, after extending her solo lead up to 20 seconds following an attack on the Paterberg and holding off a seven-strong chase group.
The Dutchwoman, who also won the Belgian classic Dwars Door Vlaanderen on Wednesday, could afford to sit up and cross the line with her arms outstretched as she tasted victory again in Flanders - a decade on from her first triumph - making her only the third woman in the race's 18 editions to win it twice.
Germany's Lisa Brennauer (Ceratizit-WNT) finished strongly to take second ahead of Australia's Grace Brown (BikeExchange).
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"I think I was waiting for nine years after my 2011 victory," Van Vleuten said. "It was so cool to watch that and do it again, especially for my new team Movistar, I'm super proud. The girls worked super hard for me and I was the number one leader and to finish it off like this... I think we are going to celebrate this really big tonight!"
Van Vleuten's attack came on the final and key climb of the day, over the Paterberg. As the peloton ascended, bunch leaders Anna Van der Breggen, Van Vleuten, and Lisa Brennauer accelerated the pace with Trek Segafredo's Elisa Longo Borghini clinging on behind.
As the group stretched out, weaving around the bends, Van Vleuten attacked as she reached the summit with 13km to go. The 38-year-old opened up a gap of five seconds, which extended up to 20 seconds by the last 5km of the race.
Earlier in the day, the race split apart over the Kanarieberg as Liv Racing's Soraya Paladin and French national champion Audrey Cordon-Regot of FDJ attacked with 45km to go.
Cordon-Regot opened up an impressive lead of around 50 seconds, but just as the riders began to reach the final climb of the day, the chase group - which was led by world champion Van der Breggen - reeled her in and with just 17km left of the 157km race it would only take one final attack from the favourites in the front group to seal the win.
That would come from Van Vleuten, who charged up the Paterberg and refused to let the group back.
Brennauer, who out-sprinted Brown for second place, said she was pleased with her performance for the day: "I always want to win - that's what we're here for but for me it's a really big result I'm really happy.
"I have to say after a lot of times when I have just missed out on a podium and to be in second place is a big achievement and for the team who did a big job for me today. I've been suffering already to stay with the top group... Annemiek was just too strong, but I should be happy about the strength I showed today so that's a good result."
Meanwhile Brown, who dreams of winning the Belgian cobbled classic, said despite missing out today, she's got her eyes set on the (delayed) Paris-Roubaix: "I came here with dream of winning today but I’m really happy to come away with third today the top race of the cobbled classics so that’s really exciting for me.
"I tried to make a move earlier but got pulled back by the girls so I’m happy I tried my best. It was hard, my team did a very strong lead out, and then I let Van Der Breggen take the front and then I attacked after on the open road. This race is one of my big goals, so I’ve come third today but hopefully next year I can win it. I’m really excited about Paris-Roubaix which unfortunately has been moved to the end of the year. And the world championships a classic style race here in Flanders."
Earlier in the day, Yara Kastelijn the 2019 European cyclo-cross champion, went down hard on the asphalt in a crash. The team, Plantur-Pura,
Kastelijn suffered a dislocated AC joint.

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Museeuw was a rider who dominated the one day classics. Ex-pro Bernie Eisel joins Johan on some of his favourite cobbled climbs from the Tour of Flanders to find out what set him aside at these prestigious races. You can stream this and more of the best cycling stories in the world exclusively on GCN+.
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