Annemiek van Vleuten Wins Stage 8 of the Giro Donne

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How the Race Finished 

Annemiek van Vleuten (Movistar) took her thirteenth stage of the Giro Donne and solidified her lead in the Maglia Rosa, putting another minute into Marta Cavalli (FDJ Nouvelle – Aquitaine), and nearly three minutes into Mavi Garcia (UAE Team ADQ). Even a crash on the final descent couldn’t stop van Vleuten, after she put in a dominating performance on the final climb, dropping Garcia early on, and, despite Cavalli’s endless, grinding effort to get back on, distancing her with repeated violent attacks. With one day left of climbing, van Vleuten looks, barring disaster, set to take the overall victory, while Cavalli has ridden herself into second overall. 

The Main Action 

It was the second major day of climbing at the Giro Donne, with the riders tackling two category two climbs: the Passo Bordala, and the Lago di Cei, en route from Rovereto to Aldeno. The day started with a few riders dropping out, notably Amanda Spratt (BikeExchange), coming down with Covid. There were a few early attacks. Thalita de Jong (Jumbo-Visma) and Karlijn Swinkels (Jumbo-Visma) made an attempt as a duo, but were swiftly caught, and Lucinda Brand (Trek-Segafredo) tried to go solo, getting ten seconds, but was reeled back in again by a peloton lead by Annemiek van Vleuten. 

The first of the two major climbs of the day was the Passo Bordala, a category two climb, lasting 14.7km with an average gradient of 6.3%. Krista Doebel-Hicock attacked as it started, but with van Vleuten again leading the bunch, was swept up. Brodie Chapman (FDJ Nouvelle-Aquitaine) then successfully got free, eking out a gap of thirty seconds. Kristen Faulkner (BikeExchange) bridged across, with Clara Koppenburg (Cofidis) also attempting it, but ending up hanging in the gap. Faulkner then dropped Chapman, and started to open up a very respectable gap; she was looking for a chance at the stage win. 

A very reduced group formed around the Maglia Rosa, with Faulkner leading by nearly three minutes. As the three main contenders descended together down narrow roads, Garcia disappeared off the back; her teammate Magnaldi dropped back, while FDJ moved to the front, trying to press the advantage for Cavalli. She eventually managed to bridge back to the group, but it was perhaps an omen of things to come. 

As they approached the second major climb of the day, the category two Lago di Cei, Faulkner’s gap was dropping. Lucinda Brand (Trek-Segafredo) attacked, forming a group that contained Elisa Longo Borghini (Trek-Segafredo) and Niamh Fisher-Black (SD Worx), but the Maglia Rosa group caught them, after FDJ pulled on the front for Cavalli. Jelena Eric (Movistar) then came to the front to set the pace, setting up an attack from Annemiek van Vleuten. 

It was only Garcia and Cavalli that followed. Van Vleuten made her characteristic violent efforts, and it was Garcia who drifted off the back first. Cavalli held on a little longer, but was gradually distanced, as van Vleuten bridged across to Faulkner. Faulkner stuck valiantly with van Vleuten for a while, but was eventually distanced. Cavalli kept her own pace behind, in an entirely opposite style of climbing to van Vleuten; she sat in the saddle, grinding it out, with van Vleuten hovering ahead of her, out of the saddle, rocking back and forth violently. Cavalli made it painfully close to bridging back on to van Vleuten’s wheel at points, but van Vleuten would set off on another brutal acceleration, and all Cavalli’s hard work would be undone. 

On the descent, there was the risk that van Vleuten’s work would be undone: turning a corner, she crashed, though it luckily didn’t cause any major damage, and cut only twenty seconds from her lead. Garcia, by this point, had tried to stick with Elisa Longo Borghini’s wheel, but dropped; she was slipping down from second to third in the general classification. Van Vleuten made it across the line a minute clear of Cavalli, looking a little worse for wear, with a few cuts on her arms, but otherwise unharmed. Longo Borghini came in third, and Garcia came in the group with Niamh Fisher-Black, resigned to the time loss to Cavalli. 

Results 

Annemiek van Vleuten now has a commanding lead in the GC, with 2’13” over Marta Cavalli, and 3’42” over Mavi Garcia. Despite second place slipping out of Garcia’s hands, she retains a podium spot, with Elisa Longo Borghini in fourth place 7’03” down. Annemiek van Vleuten now also leads the points classification. Elise Chabbey (Canyon//SRAM) continues to lead the mountains classification, and Niamh Fisher-Black, after a strong performance today, continues to lead the youth classification, and is fifth overall in the GC. 

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