How the Race Finished
On the first mountain stage of this edition, it was Juliette Labous (Team DSM) who took her first victory at the Giro Donne. She was the final rider to hang on from the breakaway, staying out front as a GC fight unfolded behind her. Annemiek van Vleuten (Movistar) came in second – a minute and a half down on Labous, but crucially, four seconds ahead of Mavi Garcia (UAE Team ADQ), and ten seconds ahead of Marta Cavalli (FDJ Nouvelle-Aquitaine Futuroscope), the only two riders in a position to challenge her in the general classification.
The Main Action
The seventh stage of the Giro Donne was the first mountain stage, as the race headed up the category one Passo del Maniva in the Alps, with 2000m of climbing. The climb dominated the stage: the last 40km was basically all uphill, although it was only the final 15.2km that was classified. The day started with some notable DNSs, including two-time stage-winner Marianne Vos (Jumbo-Visma), Christine Majerus (SD Worx) and Arlenis Sierra (Movistar).
A breakaway of 14 went, and were allowed a long leash: Elena Cecchini (SD Worx), Alba Teruel (Bizkaia Durango), Jennifer Ducuara (Colombia Tierra), Magdeleine Vallieres (EF Education Tibco-SVB), Emilia Fahlin (FDJ Nouvelle Aquitaine), Beatrice Rossato (Isolmant Premac Victory), Katia Ragusa (Liv Racing Xstra), Paula Patino (Liv Racing Xstra), Georgia Williams (BikeExchange), Juliette Labous (DSM), Cristina Tonetti (Top Girls Fassa Bortolo), Amalie Lutro (Uno X), Alice Arzuffi (Valcar Travel & Service). As they approached the final, major climb, the break had over eight minutes.
As the break started the climb, an attack went from Amalie Lutro. She established a gap of forty-five seconds over the break, but the gap back to the peloton was steadily ticking down, with Movistar and FDJ-Nouvelle Aquitaine-Futuroscope setting the pace on the front. As Lutro hit the steep slopes at the bottom of the classified section, Cristina Tonetti bridged across, but it was notably Juliette Labous who was putting the break under pressure. The only rider who could stay with her for a while was Georgia Williams (BikeExchange), but she eventually dropped away, leaving Labous to ride past Lutro and Tonetti, and keep her own pace, solo, until the line.
Behind her, it was all about the GC. The peloton was extremely reduced, down to just sixteen riders. In a not-unexpected move, it was Annemiek van Vleuten who attacked first, but she couldn’t shake Garcia and Cavalli. The three of them peeled off the front of the reduced group, then looked at each other; Elisa Longo Borghini (Trek-Segafredo) took the chance to bridge across. She attacked, and was closed down; Garcia attacked, and was closed down; van Vleuten attacked, and was closed down. A group formed with the three GC leaders, Longo Borghini, Niamh Fisher-Black (SD Worx), and Gala Realini (Isolmant – Premac – Vittoria). They were thinking about bonus seconds: Niamh Fisher-Black was the first to start to sprint, but Annemiek van Vleuten came around her, opening up with 500m to go. Garcia and Cavalli both followed, but although both were clinging on, van Vleuten was slowly clawing open gaps. Garcia clung on longest, but van Vleuten, her bike characteristically rocking underneath her, made it over the line four seconds ahead.
The podium positions in the GC remains unchanged, with Annemiek van Vleuten pulling ahead slightly after gapping Garcia on the line and picking up six bonus seconds. Mavi Garcia is now 31 seconds behind, and Marta Cavalli, who held on almost all the way to the top of the climb, is now over a minute behind. There remains a gulf between the top three and the rest: the next closest rider is Elisa Longo Borghini, at 5’19”. Particularly notable in the top ten of the stage today was the 21-year-old Italian, Gala Realini, riding for Isolmant – Premac – Vittoria, who finished seventh on the stage, sticking with the top WWT climbers.
Although Marianne Vos finished yesterday as the leader of the points classification, her DNS this morning means that Elisa Balsamo (Trek-Segafredo) now leads that classification. Elise Chabbey (Canyon//SRAM), who was luckily not too badly affected by her crash at the end of yesterday’s stage, continues to lead the Queen of the Mountains classification. Niamh-Fisher Black (SD Worx) leads the young rider’s classification, and, after finishing close to the group of favorites today, has moved up to fifth on the GC.