Annemiek van Vleuten critical of Strade Bianche-style gravel stage at Giro Rosa

ARCIDOSSO, ITALY - SEPTEMBER 12: Annemiek Van Vleuten of The Netherlands and Team Mitchelton - Scott / Mechanical Problem / Vittoria Wheels / during the 31st Giro d'Italia Internazionale Femminile 2020, Stage 2 a 124,8km stage from Civitella Paganico to Arcidosso / @GiroRosaIccrea / #GiroRosa / on September 12, 2020 in Arcidosso, Italy. (Photo by Luc Claessen/Getty Images)
Annemiek van Vleuten forced to run up Seggiano gravel climb in stage 2 at the Giro Rosa (Image credit: Getty Images)

Annemiek van Vleuten (Mitchelton-Scott) was critical of the Giro Rosa organiser's decision to include gravel sectors into stage 2 of this year's route. The world champion won the Strade Bianche-style stage but only after being forced to run up the Seggiano gravel climb before then taking a solo win Arcidosso. 

"Sometimes people ask me how your legs feel if you go all out," Van Vleuten wrote in post to Twitter Sunday morning before the start of stage 3, which includes a video of her running up the gravel climb.

"I think this video shows it... Could not even run or get into my pedals... But also example gravel sections in stage races are unnecessary, crazy and dangerous. Leave it up to 1 day like Strade Bianche."

The Giro Rosa was originally scheduled to take place June 26 to July 5, but was moved to September 11-19 as part of the revised Women's WorldTour calendar after the season was halted due to the coronavirus in March.

Organisers announced in July that they added a Strade Bianche-style stage that would include two gravel road sectors along the 124.8km route between Paganico and Arcidosso. The women raced on two gravel road sectors in Cinigiano and Seggiano, which was also a steep climb positioned just 16km from the finish.

Van Vleuten won Strade Bianche on August 1, which was the re-start to the Women's WorldTour season, after a stellar performance on the white gravel roads of Tuscany.

She expressed concerns, however, about the gravel being added to the Giro Rosa. Van Vleuten attacked at the base of the Seggiano climb during stage 2 on Saturday but when she hit the thick gravel located on the steep incline her back wheel slid out from under her causing her to go down. 

She got back up but was forced to run up the steeper section of the climb. She received some help from neutral support and eventually got going again, building her lead out to 1:16 over chasers Anna van der Breggen (Boels Dolmans) and Kasia Niewiadoma (Canyon-SRAM) at the finish.

"Annemiek is just on another level, she even had a bit of a walk just because the gravel was super bad on that final section and she had to get off but kept her calm and showed her class," said her director Andrew Smith.

Van Vleuten now leads the overall classification by 1:18 ahead of Van der Breggen and Niewiadoma heading into stage 3.

Visit Cyclingnews' dedicated women's page for full reports, results, news, features and galleries from the 2020 Giro Rosa.

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Kirsten Frattini
Women's Editor

Kirsten Frattini is an honours graduate of Kinesiology and Health Science from York University in Toronto, Canada. She has been involved in cycling from the community and grassroots level to professional cycling's WorldTour. She has worked in both print and digital publishing, and started with Cyclingnews as a North American Correspondent in 2006. Moving into a Production Editor's role in 2014, she produces and publishes international race coverage for all men's and women's races including Spring Classics, Grand Tours, World Championships and Olympic Games, and writes and edits news and features. As the Women's Editor at Cyclingnews, Kirsten also coordinates and oversees the global coverage of races, news, features and podcasts about women's professional cycling.