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It has been years since we’ve seen anyone but the power packed Dutch teams of Boels Dolmans and Rabobank on the top step of the Giro Rosa podium, but this year Australian team Mitchelton-Scott tore the normal script to shreds and took control of the race.
They dominated the stage wins at the Women’s WorldTour’s longest race and the overall podium as well, securing first and third with Annemiek van Vleuten and Amanda Spratt.
Their goal was clear coming in — overall victory — and even as they raced to that final finish line after nearly 1,000 kilometres of racing the squad did not let up for a second. They turned that final technical downhill into one last show of strength. Van Vleuten used her descending prowess to add yet another win to the team tally because in her words: “attack is the best way to defend”.
“This is a dream come true, not only for me, but for the whole team. We prepared so well for this race and to win six stages, the overall and three jerseys and do it in this way racing with confidence and control it’s a super story for the team,” said van Vleuten.
“Especially because before I thought that I would never win the Giro-Rosa. My first one was in 2010 and I always thought that I am not a climber, so it won’t happen, but yesterday to win on the Zoncolan and then today to win the GC, it’s very special,” added van Vleuten.
In one of the toughest Giro Rosa courses we’ve seen, the Dutch rider held firmly onto the pink jersey from the seventh day. The time trial world champion rode into the maglia rosa by pulling out a huge gap on the stage 7 uphill race against the clock. Van Vleuten then stamped her authority on the race by delivering victory on Monte Zoncolan on stage 9 and then she stretched out her solid GC lead further by going on a late solo break to secure that final stage win ahead of Lucinda Brand (Team Sunweb) and Kasia Niewiadoma (Canyon-SRAM).
That win took Mitchelton-Scott’s stage win tally to six, with two from the team’s Belgian sprinter Jolien D’hoore, one from Spratt and three from van Vleuten.
That dominant performance left many other teams empty handed, surprisingly including Boels Dolmans, who had one of the pre race favourites in former winner Megan Guarnier. The American rider said she fought hard every day and while she wished she could have delivered a better result, nonetheless there were some good things to take away.
“We had a tough Giro, but the entire team stayed positive for the entire ten days and really helped me every day,” said Guarnier, who finished fifth overall at 9.20 back.
“We finished with all seven riders, and we were all able to laugh about how insanely hard the Zoncolan was,” Guarnier added. “And Skylar [Schneider], age 19, finished her first Giro.”
In the end it was Cervelo Bigla who was Mitchelton Scott’s biggest rival in the overall. Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio (Cervelo Bigla) finished in second place, at 4.12 behind van Vleuten while 22-year-old teammate Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig finished sixth. They were the only team other than Mitchelton Scott with two in the top ten. Moolman-Pasio, who came fourth at the Giro Rosa in 2015, was happy to make the step up to the podium. However, the South African rider is still eyeing that top step.
“It would be wonderful to win this race one time in my career and this is the closest I’ve come so I’ll keep challenging,” said Moolman-Pasio in a statement.” It’s quite an emotional experience to finish on the podium. Successfully standing here on the podium as an African is a big achievement for me, I am really proud of it.”
Spratt, who also secured the green mountain classification jersey, was 6.30 back in third and Lucinda Brand (Team Sunweb) finished fourth at 7.36 behind. Sunweb was another of the teams who’ll be walking away from the tour satisfied, as on top of Brand’s fourth they took out the team classification, won two stages and kept the pink jersey in the team for the first five days.
Van Vleuten also took the win in the competition for the purple sprinters jersey. Spratt scooped up the climbers jersey, which is green. Sofia Bertizollo (Astana) was in white as the best young rider and Elisa Longo Borghini (Wiggle High5) walked away in the blue jersey reserved for the best Italian rider.
(Original article updated with comment and more detailed results)