Friday's stage 8 of the Giro Rosa was raced hard from start to finish, and after a late attack, Marianne Vos (WaowDeals) won the sprint over Elisa Longo Borghini (Wiggle High5) and Lucinda Brand (Team Sunweb) to take her 20th stage win at the Italian race. Speaking to Cyclingnews after the finish, the European champion described the decisive attack.
“There were still a lot of sprinters in the peloton on the last climb. So, my teammate Sabrina Stultiens piloted me to the front and then pushed a strong pace,” explained Vos. “Elisa Longo Borghini took over, I think she went for the mountain points, and the descent started right after that. It was a tricky downhill, and I wanted to be in the front there. I thought that I would just keep going and see what happens, maybe we could make a breakaway. With Lucinda Brand and Elisa, I had two perfect mates in the break. I am very happy to have won the stage and very, very grateful to the other two who worked with me on the flat, and together we could finish it off.”
Longo Borghini was on home roads again, as part of her family hails from Asiago. Cheered on by her grandmother, the Italian attacked in the final and initiated the race-winning break. “It was a nice stage, it was very fast, and in my opinion, it was also very hard,” Longo Borghini said. “It was hot out there, but not too hot, I was fine. I attacked on the GPM and then went into the fast downhill. The three of us had a gap after the descent and sprinted for the stage at the end. On the Zoncolan I will just try to find my own pace, see what happens, and enjoy the climb.”
Overall leader, Annemiek van Vleuten (Mitchelton-Scott) was kept safe through the day by her teammates, yet still lost part of her general classification lead as Brand gained a total of 32 seconds and moved into second place overall. Still, Van Vleuten holds a commanding lead of 2:29 minutes going into the decisive stage to the Monte Zoncolan.
“Many teams have not won a stage yet, so they wanted to go for that,” said Van Vleuten. “Actually, that was to our advantage as they all chased each other and helped us to control the race. It was a good effort from my teammates, we were always in control, and I did not have to do anything. The Zoncolan will be hard, there will probably be attacks, but after the mountain time trial, I feel confident and look forward to the suffering.”
Saturday's stage 9 of the Giro Rosa starts in Tricesimo. There is the category 3 climb of Interneppo after 61 km and an intermediate sprint in Tolmezzo at km 74.9 before the finishing climb starts. 10.1 kilometres of suffering on average gradients around 12 per cent, maxing at a whole 22 per cent offers one of the last opportunities to change the general classification and will decide the winner of an iconic and prestigious stage.