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2023 Giro Donne queen stage sees stars rise and others fall in GC shake-up

Antonia Niedermaier, a 20-year-old German cyclist from Canyon//SRAM who won last year’s Tour de l’Ardeche whilst on Canyon SRAM Generation, won the fifth stage of the Giro d’Italia Donne. She chose to attack 25 kilometres from the finish and managed to fend off Annemiek van Vleuten, even though she nearly fell on the last climb. Van Vleuten is now leading the overall classification by 2 minutes from Niedermaier and Ewers on the podium.

The fifth stage involved challenging climbs including the first one at Rivarolo Canavese, the Pian del Lupo, and the last two towards Vietti and the sanctuary of Sant’Ignazio. This stage had the potential to disrupt the standings.

Van Vleuten’s strategy was aggressive, as she had stated, “attack is the best form of defence.” Initially, several riders were able to keep up with her, but in the end, only Gaia Realini was able to keep pace. They both started the descent together, and a group formed behind them, including Niedermaier. Meanwhile, Veronica Ewers, third in the overall standings, trailed three minutes behind.

Annemiek van Vleuten Giro Donne 2023
Annemiek van Vleuten returning to the road just seconds before Longo Borghini crashes
Photo Credit: Getty Images

The race became more challenging with the climb to Vietti. Niedermaier and several others managed to rejoin the lead group, turning it into a group of nine at the start of the day’s penultimate climb. Labous and Magnaldi tried to break free but were unsuccessful. A later attack by van Vleuten was also thwarted.

Niedermaier launched a successful attack 25 kilometres from the finish, taking advantage of a moment of hesitation in the chasing group. She thus expanded her lead to half a minute. Fisher-Black tried to counterattack but was unable to bridge the gap. Niedermaier started the last and decisive climb of the day to Sant’Ignazio, with a substantial lead.

The chasers didn’t help each other, causing a slowdown in the pace. This allowed a chasing group to catch up, including riders like Mavi García, Veronica Ewers and Fem van Empel. Niedermaier started the last climb of this fifth stage with a lead of over a minute.

Shirin van Anrooij & Elisa Longo Borghini

In the finale, Van Vleuten and Longo Borghini broke away from the rest and pursued Niedermaier, whose lead was now slim and in the balance. In a treacherous descent, van Vleuten came off the road and had to walk to rejoin the tarmac, while seconds later on the same corner Longo Borghini had a serious accident and lost significant time. Van Vleuten got going again and managed to close in on Niedermaier but wasn’t able to overtake her. Antonia Niedermaier won the stage, the biggest victory of her career, with van Vleuten coming in second. Despite her fall, Longo Borghini finished arm in arm with teammate Shirin van Anrooij but did go visit the hospital after the stage..

“I think we can say that we achieved our goal. It was such a tough stage. I now have the pink more firmly around my shoulders, so I think we can say that we have achieved our goal. In the end, I could also fight for the stage win. It was a very exciting battle. That’s what we want, such battles in women’s cycling. In the last descent, I took maybe too many risks, but the most important thing was that I gained time. So it’s a perfect day, I think.”

Annemiek van Vleuten

2023 Giro Donne Stage 5 result

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Main photo credit: Brazo de Hierro