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Anna van der Breggen on the verge of claiming fourth Giro d'Italia Donne

MONTE MATAJUR ITALY JULY 10 Anna Van Der Breggen of Netherlands and Team SD Worx Pink Leader Jersey celebrates at podium during the 32nd Giro dItalia Internazionale Femminile 2021 Stage 9 a 1226km stage from FelettoUmberto to Monte Matajur 1267m Champagne GiroDonne UCIWWT on July 10 2021 in Monte Matajur Italy Photo by Luc ClaessenGetty Images
Anna Van Der Breggen of Team SD Worx in Pink Leader's Jersey after stage 9 (Image credit: Getty Images Sport)

There is still one stage to go, but Anna van der Breggen (Team SD Worx) has all but secured her fourth overall title at the 2021 Giro d’Italia Donne, while her team has swept a summit-finish podium for a second time at the 10-day race.

On the last mountaintop finish, stage 9 to Monte Matajur, Van der Breggen finished the race behind teammates Ashleigh Moolman Pasio, who won the stage, and runner-up Demi Vollering, and she gained time on all the other riders in the race toward the overall classification. 

It was the second time that SD Worx has swept the podium at the Italian race this year, doing so on the stage 2 summit of Prato Nevoso.

With such a dominating performance, SD Worx could afford to give Moolman Pasio the chance to go for the stage 9 victory, and the South African climber took the opportunity to secure her first stage win in the Italian race.

“It was the plan to also go for the stage today, and I think Ashleigh did a really good job. It was a hard day for all of us, but a perfect stage,” Van der Breggen said afterwards.

Ahead of the rolling stage 10 that wraps up the race on Sunday, Van der Breggen, Moolman Pasio, and Vollering occupy the three podium places in the general classification. Fourth-placed Lizzie Deignan (Trek-Segafredo) is a whopping 6:48 minutes behind.

The foundations for Van der Breggen’s fourth Giro Donne victory were laid in the opening TTT where the SD Worx team finished eight seconds behind winners Trek-Segafredo. On stage 2, a mountaintop finish at Prato Nevoso, Van der Breggen soloed to victory and into the maglia rosa, with Moolman Pasio and Vollering finishing second and third.

Van der Breggen’s lead has been unthreatened since, and she took even more time by winning the stage 4 mountain time trial by over a minute to Vollering. Only a strong ride by Grace Brown (Team BikeExchange) prevented another SD Worx 1-2-3 as Moolman-Pasio finished fourth on the day.

Provided she makes it through the final stage without a hitch, this will be Van der Breggen’s fourth overall victory at the Giro Donne within seven years. 

In 2015, she took the race lead by winning the stage 8 ITT and defended the maglia rosa on the final day’s mountain stage. After a third place in 2016, Van der Breggen and her team, then called Boels Dolmans, won the opening TTT of the 2017 edition. She took over the leader’s jersey from her teammate Karol-Ann Canuel on stage 2 and wore it to the end of the race.

In 2018, Van der Breggen opted to forgo the Giro, instead putting all her focus into the World Championships in Innsbruck later that year, and this choice paid off as she won the world title. 

Wearing the rainbow jersey, Van der Breggen returned to the Giro in 2019, but Annemiek van Vleuten (then racing for Mitchelton-Scott) was too strong. Van der Breggen finished as runner-up but could console herself with a stage win on stage 9 when she beat Van Vleuten on the Malga Montasio mountaintop finish.

In 2020, the race was shortened by one day and postponed to September because of the Covid-19 pandemic. Van Vleuten was comfortably leading the general classification when she crashed in the final kilometres of stage 7. Although not losing time due to the 3-kilometre rule, she could not start the next day, and a second place on stage 8 saw Van der Breggen leapfrog Katarzyna Niewiadoma (Canyon-SRAM) into the overall lead that she defended on the final stage.

As the defending champion, and with Van Vleuten and Niewiadoma skipping the Giro Donne to prepare for the Olympic Games, Van der Breggen was the overwhelming favourite to win the 2021 edition, and she has more than lived up to those expectations.