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Marianne Vos was oh-so-close to the win at La Course by the Tour de France in late August, barely losing in the bike throw to Trek-Segafredo’s Lizzie Deignan. It was only a matter of time before she came across the line first, and sure enough, the third stage of the Giro Rosa was the start of her 2020 victory tally. When Vos crossed the line the road was still so steep she couldn’t properly throw her arms in the air and nearly fell over after her effort.
After losing the pink jersey yesterday Elisa Longo Borghini (Trek-Segafredo) came back strong to take third, behind by FDJ Nouvelle Aquitaine Futuroscope’s Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig.
Annemiek van Vleuten and her maglia rosa finished fifth and held pink with a healthy cushion to second in the general classification.
How it happened
Similar to stage two, the third stage of the Giro Rosa saw no rest for the already exhausted peloton. With few flat sections, the course went up or down constantly for 142.2 kilometers. Immediately from the start in Santa Fiora, the peloton started climbing, but the drama started before the riders even took off, with the removal of the Queen of the Mountains climb in San Casciano Dei Bagni 50 kilometers in as well as the sprint in Perugia, around 30km to go, due to road damage. Halfway through the stage, the riders were informed by their directors via radio that the finish had changed, and would instead be an 700 meter 15% climb. Classic Giro Rosa move.
After the brutal gravel sector on stage two that saw multiple riders walking their bikes up the climbs, including the winner of the day van Vleuten, the peloton was surely happy to have smooth roads to race on stage three.
It took 62 kilometers for there to be any significant action, possibly due to the difficulty of stage two, which was reportedly “so hard it wasn’t even fun” according to Trek-Segafredo’s Ruth Winder. The first major move of the day was that of polish rider Malgorzata Jasinska of Casa Dorada Women’s Cycling Team. She only remained off the front for a few kilometers, the peloton was not keen to see aggressive riding. The next move came from Rachel Neylan of the same team. A strong climber, Neylan managed to stay away for some 13 kilometers before being reeled in by the race leader van Vleuten herself.
The new finish was a very similar final to races like Strade Bianche and Flèche Wallonne and perfectly suited for riders like Vos, a strong climber with a stronger kick, and Anna van der Breggen who has won Flèche Wallonne every year since 2015. Van der Breggen was second over the gravel sector that blew the race to smithereens on stage two and ended up second on the day, only caught by Canyon//SRAM’s Kasia Niewiadoma.
Until the base of the final climb, the peloton remained gruppo compatto, but once they hit the flamme rouge the gloves came off. The nature of this final steep climb combined with the pressure of CCC-Liv created the perfect situation for Marianne Vos to take her first victory of 2020.
The pink jersey wasn’t about to follow the moves made by Vos and Longo Borghini, and instead paced her efforts up the final climb, only losing a few seconds on GC. The closest rider to Van Vleuten on the general classification, Anna van der Breggen of Boels-Dolmans, finished seventh, and handed over a few more seconds to Van Vleuten.
The finish line was almost comical, with riders immediately putting a foot down when they crossed the line while other riders were still coming up from behind and race volunteers tried to keep the finishing area clear.
1. Marianne Vos CCC, 3:53:34
2. Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig FDJ, +0:02
3. Elisa Longo Borghini TSF, +0:05
4. Liane Lippert SUN, +0:08
5. Annemiek van Vleuten MTS, +0:12
6. Lotte Kopecky LSL, +0:13
7. Anna van der Breggen DLT, +0:16
8. Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio CCC, st
9. Katarzyna Niewiadoma CSR, st
10. Mavi Garcia ALE, +0:19
1. Annemiek van Vleuten MTS
2. Anna van der Breggen DLT, +1:22
3. Katarzyna Niewiadoma CSR, +1:37
4. Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig FDJ, +2:38
5. Mikayla Harvey EPK, +3:40
6. Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio CCC, +3:58
7. Mavi García ALE, +4:08
8. Elisa Longo Borghini TSF, +4:16
9. Elise Chabbey EPK, ++4:40
10. Marianne Vos CCC, +4:53