Annemiek van Vleuten (Orica-Scott) out-sprinted Anna van der Breggen (Boels-Dolmans) and Elisa Longo Borghini (Wiggle-High5) to the top step of the Giro Rosa stage two podium in Mantereale Valcellina on Saturday. The trio, all expected to contend for the Giro Rosa general classification, slipped away from a reduced peloton on the only categorised climb on stage two. With the best sprint amongst the three, Van Vleuten was the expected winner for the late race escape, and she delivered.
"Today was a really good test for my legs, so I am really happy to take the victory," Van Veuten said in an Orica-Scott report. "I didn't really know how my form was uphill as I haven't had the chance to test my legs uphill for almost four or five weeks. I know I have had really good preparation coming into this Giro Rosa, and I felt really strong on the climb, on the descent and also in the final 20 kilometres where we had to ride really hard."
Van der Breggen, second on the stage, moves into the race lead, assuming the race leader's maglia rosa from teammate Karol-Ann Canuel. Van Vleuten jumps up to second overall at 18 seconds. Longo Borghini is in third place at 22 seconds. The trio have a formidable advantage on their challenges with defending champion Megan Guarnier a full two minutes back in fourth place.
"It was a good day, and I'm happy for now," van der Breggen said the Boels-Dolmans stage two report. "Still there are many days coming up."
An early breakaway slipped away in the opening ten kilometres. Claudia Koster (VéloConcept) initiated the escape. Nicole Hanselmann (Cérvelo-Bigla) bridged the gap several kilometres later. The pair stayed away through the three intermediate sprints on offer – all of which were won by Koster.
The peloton picked up the chase as they headed from the flat plains toward the looming mountains, catching the leaders just before the foot of the category two climb that would split the peloton to pieces.
Forty riders, including all the jerseys and overall contenders, broke clear on the narrow and steep slopes of the Giro Rosa's first mountain test. As the road continued to rise, attrition further thinned the field. Van Vleuten lifted the pace over the top of QOM, picking up maximum points toward the climber's jersey, and created a split. Van der Breggen and Longo Borghini were the only two quick enough and strong enough to respond.
"We expected the climb to be hard," noted van der Breggen. "On the race profile, it doesn't look that hard, but it's my ninth Giro. I know by now to check the course another way."
Van der Breggen, Van Vleuten and Longo Borghini began the technical descent to a flat 10-kilometre run-in to the finish with a handful of seconds over their chasers. They stretched out that advantage beyond the minute mark by the time they hit flat land. The gap had grown to nearly two minutes at the finish line.
"For me it was not necessary to gain a big advantage with Annemiek and Elisa," noted van der Breggen. "I also wanted to keep Megan up on the GC. She was doing some effort chasing in the first group behind."
Van Vleuten, confident that she could out-sprint Van der Breggen and Longo Borghini, opened the sprint and held on to take the win.
"I was only thinking about taking time and not the stage victory," Van Vleuten said. "I am thinking more about the overall than stages, and today is a really good sign my preparation went really well."
Sunday's stage three sees the peloton cover 100 kilometres between San Fior and San Vendemiano.
|#||Rider Name (Country) Team||Result|
|1||Annemiek Van Vleuten (Ned) Orica Scott Women||3:11:51|
|2||Anna Van Der Breggen (Ned) Boels Dolmans Cyclingteam|
|3||Elisa Longo Borghini (Ita) Wiggle High5|
|4||Katarzyna Niewiadoma (Pol) WM3 Pro Cycling||0:01:54|
|5||Megan Guarnier (USA) Boels Dolmans Cyclingteam|
|6||Shara Gillow (Aus) FDJ Nouvelle Aquitaine Futuroscope|
|7||Amanda Spratt (Aus) Orica Scott Women|
|8||Yevgenia Vysotska (Ukr) Conceria Zabri-Fanini-Guerciotti||0:01:59|
|9||Lucinda Brand (Ned) Team Sunweb Women||0:02:37|
|10||Arlenis Sierra (Cub) Astana Women's Team|
|#||Rider Name (Country) Team||Result|
|1||Anna Van Der Breggen (Ned) Boels Dolmans Cyclingteam||3:26:32|
|2||Annemiek Van Vleuten (Ned) Orica Scott Women||0:00:18|
|3||Elisa Longo Borghini (Ita) Wiggle High5||0:00:26|
|4||Megan Guarnier (USA) Boels Dolmans Cyclingteam||0:02:00|
|5||Amanda Spratt (Aus) Orica Scott Women||0:02:22|
|6||Katarzyna Niewiadoma (Pol) WM3 Pro Cycling||0:02:37|
|7||Karol-Ann Canuel (Can) Boels Dolmans Cyclingteam||0:02:43|
|8||Elizabeth Deignan (GBr) Boels Dolmans Cyclingteam||0:02:50|
|9||Lucinda Brand (Ned) Team Sunweb Women||0:03:02|
|10||Floortje Mackaij (Ned) Team Sunweb Women|