The 36-year-old Dutch rider's astonishing and dominating win came out of a strategy that worked far better than she and her team had planned.
Speaking after her victory, she said: “I really enjoyed doing a crazy thing today.
It was not planned. I wanted to go hard on the climb as it was good for our team but I had a gap and my coach just said to continue. This was really crazy - I'm a bit crazy, I train a lot and that helped me to be ready for such a big effort.
Van Vleuten explained why the road race victory was a completely different feeling to her previous successes.
"I felt so many emotions on the line - it's such a big win for me. I've been world time trial champion but road champion you get to wear the jersey so much more," she continued.
'A spectacular win!' - Van Vleuten takes stunning solo win
Britain's Lizzie Deignan, who faded to finish 31st, believed that her tactics had prevented her from getting close to success
"I'm happy with my performance physically but tactically it was a masterclass in how to get it wrong - I didn't pull the smartest moves," Deignan told the BBC.
"I should've readjusted earlier - I was going for the rainbow jersey and the group I was in was racing for the silver medal, but Annemiek is in a class of her own and I couldn't match her.
"It was phenomenal. I'm just grateful for the opportunity - what a privilege to race a home world champs and it's a race I'll never forget."
'CRAZY, FEARLESS' VAN VLEUTEN
Fellow Mitchelton Scott rider Grace Brown celebrated her teammate's victory, praising her "crazy, fearless" solo.
Another Mitchelton Scott colleague Sam Bewley gave her and Australia's Amanda Spratt recognition for their efforts.
Matteo Trentin called her an "absolute legend" for the sheer scale of her win, with more tweets following from her teammates.
Highlights: Van Vleuten’s brave ride secures Dutch one-two