Van Vleuten wins women's Tour stage

Annemiek van Vleuten (Getty)
Annemiek van Vleuten (Getty)

Col d'Izoard - Annemiek van Vleuten made up for her Olympic heartbreak by winning the first stage of the women's Tour de France on Thursday. 

The 34-year-old Dutchwoman was leading the Olympic Games road race in Rio last year and 12km from the gold medal when she crashed spectacularly on a perilous descent, suffering fractured vertebrae and severe concussion as her Dutch compatriot Anna van der Breggen went on to take the title. 

But the renowned climber broke clear on the Col d'Izoard climb at the end of the 67.5km opening stage of two in La Course by Tour de France to take victory by 43 seconds from Briton Lizzie Deignan, with Italian Elisa Longo Borghini, the bronze medallist in Rio, third at 1min 23sec.

The men's 18th stage of the Tour de France will also finish on the Col d'Izoard later on Thursday.

La Course will be completed with a 22.5km time-trial around Marseille, before the men's race against the clock there.

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