How the race finished
Annemiek van Vleuten (Movistar) added another stage win to her tally at the Giro Donne, further extending her overall lead in the General Classification. Juliette Labous (Team dsm-firmenich) and Gaia Realini (Lidl-Trek) were best of the rest on the uphill finish in Alassio.
Full results are available below.
How it happened
Stage Seven, highlighted as the queen stage of the race, took the riders across 109.1 km of undulating terrain from Albenga to Alassio. With four categorised climbs including an uphill finish, the stage offered a parcours ripe for exciting racing. After winning earlier in the week, Lorena Wiebes was a non-starter, choosing to rest and prepare for the upcoming Tour de France Femme. Van Vleuten came into the day with a lead of over 3 minutes on her closest rival, but with less than 3 minutes separating second from 11th, the minor positions on the General Classification were still open for opportunists to pick their moment.
The day started with a scenic cruise along the Ligurian coastline before heading inland into the hills. 25km into the race, on the approach of the Passo del Ginestro, the peloton remained all together. Team dsm-firmenich set a hard tempo to reduce the bunch on the first challenge of the day, where for perhaps the first time in the race, we saw no major attacks.
Elena Pirrone took her chances on the false flat section before the main part of the descent off the Passo del Ginestro. By the bottom of the descent, she had extended her lead out to 36 seconds. Lidl-Trek set the pace on the front of the peloton, reducing the gap to Pirrone ahead of the Il Vigneto climb. By halfway up the climb she had been reeled back in.
Evita Muzic (FDJ Suez) put in a strong attack and was followed by Niamh Fisher-Black (SD Worx), but the reduced group of around thirty riders came back together. The next attack came from FDJ-Suez again, with Victorie Guilman, who was joined by Pauliena Rooijakkers (Canyon//Sram Racing). Their move was neutralised by Fisher-Black and Silvia Persico (UAE Team AQD). After regrouping, the reduced peloton came over the top together, with Fem van Empel (Jumbo Visma) picking up the bulk of the QOM points for the second time on the stage.
On the gentle, rolling descent following the Il Vigneto climb, Anouska Koster (Uno-X Pro Cycling) went on the attack, quickly building up a 1 minute lead. Behind, the teams of the favourites waited for their domestiques to return, before Movistar started to control the gap. Fem van Empel and Persico opened up a counter attack, pushing their descending skills on the downhill stretch. On the rolling terrain Guilman tried again, as did Soraya Paladin (Canyon//Sram Racing). Fisher-Black attacked, but was marked out by Movistar. All the action behind reduced Koster’s gap to 40s, as the start of a longer downhill began. With the final long downhill done, Movistar again set the pace on the valley floor, holding the gap to Koster at around 30s. By the start of the Cima Paravenna, Koster was caught.
Lidl-Trek again set the early pace on the climb. Niamh Fisher-Black attacked with 5.2km to the top, reducing the group. Shortly after, Gaia Realini (Lidl-Trek) attacked. Mavi Garcia (Liv Racing TeqFind) countered, and got a gap on the group. Behind her, Juliette Labous (dsm firmenich), van Vleuten, Fisher-Black, Realini and Veronica Ewers (EF Education-TIBCO-SVB) followed. Garcia extended her gap to 18 seconds, with 3km to the top of the climb. Fisher-Black and Labous were leading the chase, with others in the group, including van Vleuten, not cooperating. Ewers found herself struggling with the pace, with her podium position potentially at risk.
As they approached the top, van Vleuten finally attacked, and was followed by Fisher-Black, Labous and Realini. They bridged up to Garcia, but Fisher-Black was unable to keep the pace with the front group. With only 700m remaining of the climb, on the steepest sections near the top, Garcia also found herself dangling off the back. Van Vleuten, Labous and Realini crested the climb together, cooperating as a group to extend their gap on the rolling plateau ahead of the final climb to the finish.
Just over twenty seconds back, Fisher-Black and Garcia chased together. They were rejoined by Magnaldi and Persico (UAE Team AQD), Uttrup Ludwig and Muzic (FDJ Suez) and Lippert (Movistar). The FDJ-Suez riders were slow to cooperate, and Lippert was sitting on with her leader van Vleuten up the road, so the chase wasn’t able to claw back much time on the leaders. Behind them, Ewers was riding alone, losing time.
The leading trio hit the start of the final climb up to the finish, and Labous set the pace. After biding her time, van Vleuten attacked 1.6km before the line, quickly establishing a gap. Behind them, Persico pushed off the front, bringing the gap down under 30 seconds. On the climb, Uttrup-Ludwig and Lippert attacked the chase group, but were too far back to catch Labous and Realini. Van Vleuten once again led across the line, with Labous coming in second and Realini third – their efforts also bumping them up into the same respective positions on the General Classification.
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