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Giro Rosa 2019: Dominant Annemiek van Vleuten retains title

George Smith
15 Jul 2019

Dutchwoman makes it two wins from two years in women’s most prestigious stage race

After 10 gruelling stages across Northern Italy, Annemiek van Vleuten (Mitchelton-Scott) became the first back-to-back winner of the Giro Rosa since 2012, adding the mountains jersey to her palmaires while retaining the race’s overall and points classifications that she won in 2018.

Two-time winner Anna van der Breggen (Boels-Dolmans) came second while Amanda Spratt (Mitchelton-Scott) battled hard to join her teammate on the podium in third.

Juliette Labous (Team Sunweb) came in 11th, 9 minutes 51 seconds down on the winner to claim the young rider’s classification. Former runner up Elisa Longo Borghini (Trek-Segafredo) took the fifth and final blue jersey as best Italian rider.

The race opened in the north-west of Italy with an 18km team time-trial which was won comfortably by Canyon-Sram ahead of Bigla and CCC Liv, putting Canyon-Sram’s GC hopeful Katarzyna Niewiadoma into pink after the first day.

The Polish rider was able to retain her Maglia Rosa after the second stage saw the riders tackle a relatively short but hilly stage that finished on a testing 7% climb. Dutchwoman Marianne Vos (CCC-Liv) out-sprinted Van Vleuten on the day with Lucinda Brand (Team Sunweb) coming third to make it an all Dutch affair.

Vos doubled up on Stage 3 to take her second victory of the race, pipping Lucy Kennedy (Mitchelton-Scott) - who had already raised her hands in celebration - to the line after 104km of riding. Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig (Bigla Pro Cycling) made up the day’s podium as Niewiadoma retained the overall race lead.

Only a day following on from Kennedy’s bizarre finishing line woes, lightning struck twice when Nadia Quagliotto raised her arms in celebration only to be passed by eventual stage winner and breakaway companion Letizia Borghesi (Aromitalia-Basso-Vaiano). Bepink’s Chiara Perini, who was also in the day’s breakaway, finished third. There were no changes in the top GC spots after Stage 4.

Stage 5, re-routed after landslides meant the riders would no longer finish on the Passo di Gavia, was dominated by Van Vleuten whose attack on the day’s final climb was labelled ‘alien’ by rival Borghini. The blistering attack meant she finished almost three minutes up on her rivals and was enough to slingshot her into the race lead, now 2 minutes 16 up on Niewiadoma who finished third on the day with Brand coming in just ahead of her for second.

Van Vleuten extended her grip on the General Classification with a strong performance on Stage 6’s individual time-trial, setting a time 53 seconds better than Anna van der Breggen (Boels-Dolmans) in second and 1 minute 48 better than Borghini in third.

Dutch excellence continued to be displayed in its entirety with Marianne Vos taking another stage win in which her compatriot Van der Breggen came second and Borghini came third. The Dutch overnight leader Van Vleuten finished the medium mountain stage fourth to preserve her lead.

Stage 8, the longest stage of the 30th edition of women’s cycling most prestigious stage race, saw Britain’s Lizzy Banks (Bigla Pro Cycling) solo her way to victory after launching an attack from her small breakaway group. Her teammate Leah Thomas sprinted in 30 seconds later to take second ahead of Soraya Paladin (Ale-Cipollini). None of the breakaway riders were any threat to the GC and Van Vleuten retained the overall race lead from Van der Breggen and Niewiadoma, as had been the case since Stage 6.

The penultimate stage saw riders face a tough day in the mountains where the race’s top two duked it out looking for a stage victory. Van der Breggen won out but could only take 17 seconds from General Classification rival Van Vleuten, not enough to seriously dent her lead. Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio (CCC-Liv) took third on the stage as Amanda Spratt leap-frogged a number of competitors to head into the final day on the virtual podium.

The race finished with a flat stage into Udine and a remarkable fourth win for Vos who showed her dominance by beating Brand and Lotte Kopecky (Lotto-Soudal) in the sprint finish.

Taking a 4 minute 11 seconds lead into the final day, Van Vleuten comfortably defended her advantage from Van der Breggen as the top three remained the same, with Spratt securing her place on the podium.

In truth, when Van Vleuten took the race lead - and points and mountain classifications - after her remarkable solo victory on Stage 5 she never looked like being caught, and her victory the next day in the TT only cemented that fact; the Dutch rider was in a class of her own.

Nonetheless, after successfully defending her title the 36-year-old was quick to heap praise on her Mitchelton-Scott teammates: 'In a one day race maybe you can win on your own, a Giro d’Italia you cannot.

'It’s not just the riders, but you need the staff, we took it very serious and maybe that is one of the secrets, we came here as the best prepared team and that paid off.'

Final General Classification

1. Annemiek van Vleuten (Mitchelton-Scott) 25hrs 01mins 41secs
2. Anna van der Breggen (Boels-Dolmans) +3mins 45secs
3. Amanda Spratt (Mitchelton-Scott) +6mins 55secs
4. Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio (CCC Liv) +7mins 54secs
5. Katharine Hall (Boels-Dolmans) +7mins 57secs
6. Katarzyna Niewiadoma (Canyon-SRAM) +8mins 03secs
7. Lucinda Brand (Team Sunweb) +8mins 16secs
8. Elisa Longo Borghini (Trek-Segafredo) +8mins 20secs
9. Soraya Paladin (Ale-Cipollini) +9mins 13secs
10. Erica Magnaldi (WNT-Rotor) +9mins 31secs