After narrowly missing out on a second stage victory the day before, Van Vleuten took no chances in the sixth stage of the Giro Donne, soloing away from a reduced peloton with 14 km to go. The pink jersey wearer rode alone to the finish in Canelli, adding more seconds to her overall lead.
Lorena Wiebes led in a group containing the top women in the race 20 seconds behind the winner, with Van Vleuten’s teammate Liane Lippert taking third on the stage.
Van Vleuten’s lead in the fight for pink grew to 3:03 over American Veronica Ewers, who finished outside the top ten on the stage. Ewers moved into second with the abandonment of the Best Young Rider Antonia Niedermaier, and Juliette Labous jumped into third overall.
How it happened
- Unfortunately for riders hoping to take the stage from a breakaway, the day’s escapees were kept on a short leash. The last two riders out front, Elinor Barker of Uno-X and Petra Stiasny of Fenix-Deceuninck, were swept up with 26.5 km to go.
- As soon as the break’s day was done the attacks started with Blanka Vas and Niamh Fisher-Black both putting pressure on the reduced bunch. Nothing was able to get away, with DSM-Firmenich making it their mission to keep the group compact for Juliette Labous.
- Van Vleuten attacked with 1.8 km to go on the final climb before the short finishing ascent. Behind her Fisher-Black led a group of strong climbers including Lippert, Gaia Realini (Lidl-Trek), and Marta Cavalli (FDJ-Suez). The chasers would be out of luck as the World Champion left everything on the road before the top of the ascent.
- On the descent to the finish, the chasing group behind swelled as Van Vleuten’s lead grew. The numbers helped. At the base of the final climb to the finish she had over 40 seconds on the chasers, but her gap in the end was only 20 seconds.
- Wiebes, an expert at short punchy climbs, was able to distance herself from the rest of the chasers to take second and Lippert held on to the European Champion on the climb to finish third.
Brief stage results
- Annemiek Van Vleuten (Movistar) 2:39:04
- Lorena Wiebes (SD Worx) @ 0:20
- Liane Lippert (Movistar) @ same time
- Soraya Paladin (Canyon-SRAM) @ 0:25
- Silvia Persico (UAE Team ADQ) @ 0:28
- Annemiek van Vleuten (Movistar) 14:58:30
- Veronica Ewers (EF Education-TIBCO-SVB) @ 3:03
- Juliette Labous (DSM-firmenich) @ 3:39
- Gaia Realini (Lidl-Trek) @ 3:59
- Mavi García (Liv Racing Teqfind) @ 4:18
Notes and analysis
- Stage 5 winner and second-placed overall Niedermaier crashed with 32.5 km to go and was forced to abandon the race. She’s the second runner-up in the GC to leave the race in two days.
- When asked after the stage if Van Vleuten was interested in gaining more time in the general classification the world champion was quick to say that wasn’t the reason for her attack. She loves to win, and she had no one (but maybe her teammates) to dedicate her victory to.
- The team that did the most to try and shake up the race was definitely SD Worx, although DSM-Firmenich tried some different tactics for Labous. SD Worx, in the unusual position of being on the backfoot, had Wiebes, Vas and Fisher-Black all set to attack mode.
- Ewers was again absent from the front of the race when the moves started flying but again managed to claw her way back to her rivals and maintain her place in the general classification. She is proving to be part cat in this Giro Donne.
Next up: stage 7 preview
The seventh stage is another challenging one in that it never relents. There are four categorized climbs throughout the stage, two Category 3s and two Category 2s. Passo del Ginestro, a 12.3 km climb averaging 4.4%, starts off the climbing 38 km into the stage. Il Vigneto, a Category 2 at 4.8 km long and 6.6%, is 26 km later. Then after a bit of rolling roads, the peloton will hit Colle Paravenna, a 6.5 km-long Category 2 climb that averages 6%.
Colle Paravenna tops out 9 km from the finish but the roads don’t dip before then. Instead, the route follows a plateau to another ascent, the Category 3 Santuario della Guardia. This final ascent is only 2.6 km long but averages 7.2%. The steepest slopes are near the top of the climb.
After a few general classification days, the seventh stage could finally be one for a breakaway but with the way the GC riders are attacking this race, it looks unlikely an opportunistic rider will be able to get enough time before the final two ascents. Instead perhaps keep an eye on the likes of Fisher-Black, who is getting better and better with each stage, Realini, and Labous for some bold moves.
Quote of the day
“You wake up after yesterday, a really hard stage, and the team comes together with the plan to attack and I am always in for a plan to attack.”Annemiek van Vleuten
Oh, you like to attack? You don’t say! We never would have guessed.
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