Anna van der Breggen (Boels Dolmans) has expressed her well-wishes for compatriot Annemiek van Vleuten (Mitchelton-Scott) after she was forced to abandon the Giro Rosa while in the overall lead following a crash on stage 7 that left her with a broken wrist.
Van der Breggen said she would never have wanted to take the magia rosa in this way and said she felt sorry that Van Vleuten had crashed out of the race and would now miss her rainbow-jersey defence at the UCI Road World Championships held in Imola from September 24-27.
“It's a bit strange,” van der Breggen said on moving into the race lead after finishing second to Elisa Longo Borghini (Trek-Segafredo) on stage 8 in San Marco la Catola. “It’s not how everybody thought it would be, and not how you would like to take pink, but on the other hand, you could really feel today that the fighting spirit was really back for pink again and everybody was focused.”
Mitchelton-Scott confirmed that Van Vleuten was forced to abandon the race due to a broken wrist and that she would not be able to compete in the Imola World Championships. Van Vleuten said she was disappointed to have been sidelined, especially after a stellar season that includes seven wins in the rainbow jersey.
Van Vleuten was just recently named to the Dutch national team for the World Championships alongside Van der Breggen, Marianne Vos, Demi Vollering, Chantal Van den Broek-Blaak, Amy Pieters, Ellen van Dijk and Floortje Mackaij.
“It’s never nice when you, as a rider, go out because of a crash," Van der Breggen said. “Especially for her. She’s riding really well this season so a lot of important races are coming up and also here she was in pink so yeah it’s nasty to go out of a season like this, and I feel very sorry for her.”
Van der Breggen appeared to blame the state of the roads for the crash, which caused Van Vleuten to go down along with CCC-Liv’s Vos, Amanda Spratt (Mitchelton-Scott), Omer Shapira (Canyon-SRAM), Erica Magnaldi (Ceratizit-WNT) and Mavi Garcia (ALe BTC Ljubljana). "We’ve had a lot of bad roads in this Giro and maybe after a couple of days it all went well and yesterday did not.”
Stage 8 of the Giro Rosa began in vastly different style to the previous day, with Kasia Niewiadoma (Canyon-SRAM) the new race leader by default, following Van Vleuten’s withdrawal from the race.
The penultimate stage not only included two tough second-category climbs, but strong winds also caused echelons early on in the race causing a split in the bunch. A select group of climbers broke away at the bottom of the final climb to the finish including Van der Breggen and Longo Borghini, who came to the finish together, with Longo Borghini taking the win and Van der Breggen the new race leader.
Speaking after the stage van der Breggen commented, “today was a hard stage with echelons, long downhills and then the final climb was really steep, really long.”
The final climb was where the Dutch national champion made the move which saw she and Longo Borghini break away, “I think everybody was also already tired from the stage because we had a hard race with echelons,” she said. “Lizzie Deignan was making a speed which was fast so already a lot of girls were dropped. I knew the climb was quite long so I tried to wait until the first flat part was over and then make the pace right for myself, so then of course I was happy that only Elisa could follow and that I could drop Kasia.”
Despite being beaten to the line by Longo Borghini, the Boels-Dolmans rider’s second place meant that she now wears the maglia rosa going into the final stage of the race on Saturday.
On the events of today, however, the new race leader was positive, “It was a good day in the end, also for the team it’s nice, if they’ve worked the whole day and you really need a team in echelons like this and a stage like this so it’s nice when it goes well and you can give them something back. Tomorrow is also a hard stage, so the fight will be there again and I need to recover fast now to be ready for it.”
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