Anna van der Breggen (Boels Dolmans) has opted to skip her defense of the the Giro d'Italia Internazionale Femminile, also known as the Giro Rosa, in July in order to focus on other events during the second half of the season. The Dutch all-rounder told Cyclingnews earlier this year that she is targeting a first world title at the 2018 UCI Road World Championships in Austria in September.
"I will not ride the Giro Rosa this year," Van der Breggen wrote in a statement on her website. "Since 2010, I have raced it every year so far and this time I choose a different path.
"The Giro requires a specific preparation and is a tough race to do. I thought it would be nice to have a different program this year. Also with a view to the rest of the season. And the rest of the season is now about to begin. I'm really looking forward to that."
Van der Breggen has twice won the Giro Rosa, in 2015 and then last year, when she took the title ahead of Elisa Longo Borghini and Annemiek Van Vleuten.
She has had a stellar career, proving that she can climb, sprint and time trial, winning an Olympic gold medal in the road race and bronze in the time trial in 2016, the Ardennes Classics triple crown in 2017, and this year, she added Strade Bianche and Tour of Flanders to her palmares.
She also won this year's Flèche Wallonne and Liège-Bastogne-Liège, and Durango Emakumeen Sira. She skipped her defense of the Amgen Women's Tour, as the event conflicted with Emakumeen Bira, and her team did not have enough staff or riders to compete in both Women's WorldTour races. She is currently leading the Women's WorldTour overall ranking.
Although she has not confirmed her upcoming schedule, the glaring void in her resume is a World Championship title. She has previously placed inside the top 10 in the Worlds road race and the time trial on numerous occasions.
In 2015 in Richmond, she secured the silver medal in both events. Last year in Bergen, her compatriots Chantal Blaak won the road race and Annemiek van Vleuten won the time trial, while van der Breggen was eighth in the road race and again took the silver medal in the time trial.
In an interview with Cyclingnews in February, Van der Breggen said that if she never wins a world title, she would still be proud of her career in professional cycling.
She also said that the course in Innsbruck suits her perfectly. The elite women's road race will start in Kufstein and head west to finish in Innsbruck-Rennweg, for a total of 156.7km. They will race a 90km loop followed by three shorter circuits of 23.9km each. The course has 2,413 metres of elevation gain.
"Of course, this particular World Championships could be my year [to win] because it's being held on a hard course," Van der Breggen said. "I like to have the world title as a goal. Of course, it's a big goal, and I will go for it."