Giro Rosa stage 2: Annemiek van Vleuten wins the stage as Anna van der Breggen takes pink
Now in its 28th edition, the Giro Rosa is the biggest celebration of women’s cycling on the calendar. With 10 days of hard racing, the Giro Rosa is the only remaining Grand Tour on the women’s calendar, and the win comes with a lot of prestige.
As women’s cycling is become more and more a level playing field, there’s not one top favourite taking to the start. Instead, it will be an exciting and hard-fought battle between teams and riders days in, day out until we reach the finale in Torre del Greco on Sunday, July 9.
The second stage was a Dutch party, with Annemiek van Vleuten (Orica-Scott) winning the stage in a three-up sprint and Anna van der Breggen (Boels-Dolmans) taking over the pink jersey from teammate Karol-Ann Canuel.
Also read our Giro Rosa report of stage one.
Giro Rosa Round-up: stage two
Just like last year, a Canadian lined up in the pink leader’s jersey at the start of day two in the Giro Rosa. In 2016, it was Liv-Plantur’s Leah Kirchmann (now Team Sunweb) who won the evening prologue and was awarded the first leader’s jersey.
This year, it was Canadian time trial champion Karol-Ann Canuel (Boels-Dolmans) who received the pink jersey around her shoulders, after she led her team Boels-Dolmans across the line in the opening team time trial.
The rain that had started to fall during the podium ceremony of the first stage fortunately stopped overnight, and a bright and sunny day welcomed the riders in Zoppola, where the second stage started. At 12.15pm local time, the 168-rider peloton departed, cheered on by the tifosi that came out.
Eager to get her Giro Rosa off to a good start, Claudia Koster (VéloConcept Women) attacked within the first ten kilometres of the stage. VéloConcept doesn’t bring a GC contender to the Giro Rosa and will race opportunistic, going for stage top tens.
Nicole Hanselmann (Cervélo-Bigla), motivated to show her brand new jersey as the Swiss road champion, bridged the gap to Koster, who was surely happy to get a companion with her out on the road, increasing their chance of staying away.
— Cervélo Bigla (@CerveloBigla) July 1, 2017
Koster won all three intermediate sprints, but after that, the time for the break was up. The peloton started chasing hard towards the foot of the category-2-climb and the duo was caught by the peloton after a little over 80 kilometres off the front.
With the increase in speed and the gradients going up, riders were getting dropped at the back before the climb had actually started.
Lucinda Brand (Team Sunweb) led the peloton on the climb as the roads got narrower and steeper. A 30-rider group split from the rest of the peloton, with all jerseys and favourites represented.
Annemiek van Vleuten (Orica-Scott) attacked shortly before the top, conveniently already wearing the green QOM jersey as it was awarded to the first rider crossing the line of the third fastest team in yesterday’s team time trial. She took the maximum QOM points and will lead the classification going into stage two.
Elisa Longo Borghini (Wiggle-High5) and 2015 Giro Rosa winner Anna van der Breggen (Boels-Dolmans) joined Van Vleuten after the top. The trio started the technical descent a few seconds ahead of the field. They grew their advantage to over a minute on seven chasers when they commenced the last ten flat kilometres to the finish line.
Van der Breggen got team orders not to take turns and stayed in the wheels. But both Longo Borghini and Van Vleuten are strong time trialists and world-class athletes, so they were still able to keep their advantage to the line. Van Vleuten held off her breakaway companions in the three-up sprint to take the stage win, an incredible start to her GC campaign in the 2017 Giro Rosa.
“Today was a really good test for my legs so I am really happy to take the victory,” Van Vleuten explained in the Orica-Scott report on the stage. “I didn’t really know how my form was uphill as I haven’t had the chance to test my legs uphill [in a race] 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,” she added. “I was only thinking about taking time and not the stage victory. I am thinking more about the overall than stages and today is a really good sign that my preparation went really well.”
— UCI_WWT (@UCI_WWT) July 1, 2017
“I feel that the whole team is really committed and really believe in me which is a great feeling,” Van Vleuten said. “The girls are always putting me in a good position into the beginning of the climbs and it is an amazing feeling, I feel really supported.”
“It is the first time for me to target the GC and the first time to have the team riding for me which is a really cool new experience and I am really happy today that I showed that we can do something special here together.”
With her stage win, Van Vleuten also takes the ciclamino points jersey and will wear that jersey in stage three. Her teammate Amanda Spratt stands second in the QOM classification and will therefore wear the green jersey in stage three.
Van der Breggen takes over the pink leader’s jersey from her teammate Canuel, leading the GC ahead of Van Vleuten and Longo Borghini.
“It was quite some fireworks on the climb today. Our big advantage in the TTT allowed us to keep quiet and follow,” said Van der Breggen.
“For me it was not necessary to gain a big advantage with Annemiek and Elisa,” she added. “I also wanted to keep Megan up on the GC. She was doing some effort chasing in the first group behind.”
“Today was a very good day in the saddle,” said third place finisher Longo Borghini after the stage. “The team worked perfectly in the early, flat kilometres, and put Claudia [Lichtenberg] and me into a perfect position onto the climb.”
“Van Vleuten attacked and I was able to follow her,” she added. “We had a good lead at the top of the climb, and the descent was pretty solid. Then we went really fast to the finish line.”
The first to cross the line behind the leading trio was Women’s WorldTour leader Kasia Niewiadoma (WM3 Pro Cycling).
“We had hoped to get into that lead group with the other three,” WM3 DS Jeroen Blijlevens commented after the stage. “Kasia did everything she could to get to the front, but it wasn’t enough today.”
“The Giro Rosa only just started, it can still go any way. We will contemplate how to respond to what happened today.”
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The white young rider jersey changes shoulders from the world road champion Amalie Dideriksen (Boels-Dolmans) to Team Sunweb’s Floortje Mackij, making up a little bit for the team missing the front group.
“We had already predicted that there would be an attack and that it would be difficult for us to follow, which is exactly what happened,” said Team Sunweb’s Giro Rosa coach Adriaan Helmantel.
“We still had three riders sprinting for ninth, which was a good situation. Floortje also takes over the lead in the young rider classification which is nice for us. Overall we’re happy with the level of the team and look forward to another good day tomorrow.”
Stage three information
Stage three: Sunday July 2
San Fior – San Vendemiano
Another category-2-climb in the third stage, but with less altitude meters. The Ca’ del Poggio offers point towards the green QOM jersey, while the intermediate sprint point just before halfway through the stage has points up for grabs towards the points classification.
If they get through the climb, stage three looks to be for the sprinters. It’s a chance for Chloe Hosking (Alé Cipollini) to repeat her 2016 Giro Rosa win. Or will Kirsten Wild (Cylance Pro Cycling) or Coryn Rivera (Team Sunweb) take their first victory in the women’s Giro d’Italia?
Jersey wearers going into stage two
Pink leader’s jersey: Anna van der Breggen (Boels-Dolmans)
Purple points jersey: Annemiek van Vleuten (Orica-Scott)
Green Queen of the Mountain jersey: Amanda Spratt (Orica-Scott), wearing it for Van Vleuten
White young rider jersey: Floortje Mackaij (Team Sunweb)
Blue best Italian rider jersey: Elisa Longo Borghini (Wiggle-High5)
Check back tomorrow for the Giro Rosa Round-up of stage three!