Van Vleuten trains on Passo Gavia ahead of Giro Rosa

Defending champion fine-tunes form in the Italian mountains

Annemiek van Vleuten (Mitchelton-Scott) has finished putting the final touches on her form ahead of the Giro d'Italia Internazionale Femminile held from July 5-14. The defending champion just completed a mountainous training block that included a preview of the Passo di Gavia.

"Giro Gavia-Mortirolo with Dutch-Ozzie bunch," van Vleuten wrote in a post on Twitter, which included images of her training companions Amanda Spratt and Lucy Kennedy (both MItchelton-Scott) and Lucinda Brand (Sunweb). "Cool to train together. All preparing for @GiroRosaIccrea at altitude around Livigno/Trepalle."

This year's race will be one of the toughest editions because it features summit finishes on the Passo di Gavia (stage 5) and at Malga Montasio (stage 9), while there will also be a tough hilltop finale to the concluding stage in Udine.

Last year, Van Vleuten won the Giro Rosa ahead of runner-up Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio and teammate Spratt in third. Van Vleuten not only won the overall title but three stages and the points classification. Spratt won one stage and the mountain classification.

Van Vleuten started the year unsure of her form after spending the off-season recovering from a significant knee injury sustained in a crash at the Innsbruck World Championships last September. She had an outstanding spring, however, winning Strade Bianche and Liège-Bastogne-Liège, along with a series of second places at Tour of Flanders, Amstel Gold Race, and Flèche Wallonne.

The time trial world champion has also taken several trips to altitude at Tenerife, recently completing a block of training on the island before travelling to Livigno, Italy.

Mitchelton-Scott have yet to announce the full roster for the Giro Rosa, but recently launched a video ahead of the race.

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