This story first appeared on VeloNews.com.
Marianne Vos (Jumbo-Visma) took career win number 32 at the Giro d’Italia Donne after an incredible finish to stage 5. Lotte Kopecky (Team SD Worx) and Silvia Persico (Valcar-Travel & Service) finished second and third.
Annemiek van Vleuten (Movistar) almost crashed and had to close a gap to her main rivals Lucinda Brand (Trek-Segafredo), Mavi Garcia (UAE ADQ) and Elisa Longo Borghini (Trek-Segafredo) to hold onto her maglia rosa.
“I’m still catching my breath; it was all the time trying to find your position and stay in the front,” said Vos.
“Of course, it was actually already a sprint before we hit the last climb and then another sprint up the climb and another sprint to the line – it was a lot of sprinting and quite hard. It’s very nice to take the victory, after the last time and the two wins, the team did well and could’ve lost a lot of trust and confidence in me but I’m glad it worked out.
How it unfolded
Wednesday’s stage saw the Giro d’Italia start in Sarnico before heading westwards to Bergamo. Five laps of a circuit, including the repeated ascent of the San Pantaleone started the day.
The final part of the stage was a nod to last year’s men’s Il Lombardia. The women’s peloton took on the same partially cobbled Città Alta climb before descending to the finish line. The host locations themselves were a repeat of 2012’s stage 9, which saw Emma Johansson win ahead of Vos.
The world champion and double stage winner Elisa Balsamo lives in Sarnico and started the day by being presented with a special cake on the sign-on podium.
No breakaway formed early on, with riders keen to score the Queen of the Mountains points. Elisa Chabbey took a horde of points to take a commanding lead with no consistent rival over each of the summits. Her lead is now 21 points at the end of today’s stage.
After the third ascent of San Pantaleone, Francesca Pisciali of Team Mendelspeck attacked and had a maximum of 15 seconds before the peloton caught her. That seemed to give ideas to other riders as Lucinda Brand attack on the next descent, reminiscent of her race-winning attack at the recent Tour de Suisse.
Kristen Faulkner managed to bridge across but the peloton wasn’t prepared to let strong riders like them gain any distance.
The peloton closed another break from Alessia Vigilia of Top Girls Fassa Bartolo ahead of the final ascent of San Pantaleone.
This time the maglia rosa herself lead the peloton up the climb with Vos keeping a watchful eye. It looked like another preventative measure from Van Vleuten, wanting to be ahead and safe for the descent. With the peloton strung out in a long line, they once again had to close a gap to a strong group including Niamh Fisher-Black of SD Worx in the maglia bianca.
The next to try their luck was Victoire Berteau of Cofidis whose gap got up to one minute on the road to Bergamo. She was swept up on the Città Alta climb as those looking for the stage win lit things up.
A Canyon SRAM rider crashed on the cobbles just before the skinny road through the Saint Lorenzo Gate, forcing Van Vleuten to unclip and have to work hard to catch up.
Brand put in a huge effort setting up an attack for teammate Longo Borghini but Vos jumped straight onto her wheel. Garcia managed to bridge over and came straight through with an opportunity to claim some general classification time back on the maglia rosa.
Van Vleuten powered down the descent with riders on her tail and was able to make it across to the lead trio and wipe out their advantage. Faulkner led out the sprint but Vos took win number two of this year’s Giro Donne ahead of Lotte Kopecky.
Giro d'Italia Donne (2.WWT) Sarnico → Bergamo
VAN VLEUTEN Annemiek
FDJ Nouvelle Aquitaine Futuroscope