Giro Donne (stage 4)
The Olympic champion shows off with several attacks in the last 50 km of a hot and demanding day, in which ‘Miek’, García (UAD, 2nd) and Cavalli (FDJ, 3rd) ended up outracing the second peloton by five minutes in a key day for the general classification.
She never disappoints. Annemiek van Vleuten (Movistar Team) once again showed off this Monday in Cesena, the start and finish of the fourth stage of the 2022 Giro Donne -121 km full of ascents and descents in its decisive section-, of her incisive, ambitious and brilliant style for position herself as the new leader of the Italian Grand Tour much sooner than many could expect.
The Olympic champion turned the race upside down with her movements on the 2nd category level of Barbotto, with the only opposition of a Cavalli (FDJ, 3rd) whom she left behind on the last scoring slope and a García (UAD, 2nd) that put ‘Miek’ in trouble at times. The Dutchwoman, however, was able to contain the push of the Mallorcan in the sprint and add the Movistar Team’s 24th success in 2022, the fifteenth for the blue women’s team that will give everything to keep this coveted garment until Sunday in Padova. The differences in the general classification are obvious: 25″ with García, 57″ with Cavalli… and 5’00” over Longo Borghini (TFS), now fourth.
Comments / Annemiek van Vleuten:
“Today is a lesson I learned from a wise man like Johan Cruyff, who said that ‘the best defense is a good attack’. We already knew before the stage that it was going to be a very difficult day to manage, with difficult descents, bad asphalt… When you are going to compete in the general classification, you don’t want to get into too much trouble either, you want to avoid mishaps and on the descents you go with a mentality different, seeking not to take risks. But on the other hand, I knew that there were options that the rivals wanted to get you into trouble on the descents, on the mid-stage climbs… and that’s why I also had to consider attacking, because it was the best way to protect myself, reducing the group.
«I must say that I was surprised by how things went after the first attack because I thought that more girls were going to follow me as it was the first real climb of the day, after a day of rest… It had not been a hard race until then either, but with the heat that has been, that may have favoured me when moving. In the end, we were three ahead, and the truth is that in the final part I have to say that Cavalli and Mavi were very strong. Since we’ve been gone I’ve only really attacked on the last non-scoring climb with 13km to go, and Mavi has followed me easily and taken over ever since. She reminded me of the Strade Bianche two years ago, where she also tried it that way. I knew that with those kinds of long attacks from Mavi, if I kept up the pace I could follow and come back. In the end, we didn’t leave either of them behind, but we did release Cavalli, who is dangerous on arrivals like this, it was important to leave her behind. Mavi jumped again just before the tunnel inside the last kilometre and I was a little surprised, there were 600 meters left. I didn’t go to her wheel right away, but I did manage to keep it, catch her 200 meters from the finish and from there, already at full throttle in the sprint, I achieved victory.
About the leader’s jersey, my thought is that we already had the jersey on our backs, even if we weren’t physically wearing it. I started the race as the favourite, and we simply weren’t leading because of the circumstances. The other teams were already looking at you, even if you weren’t first. It makes no difference to me; I also don’t think we have to put the team in front or things like that. There’s no difference. At the moment I am very proud to already wear pink, and what happens from now on, we will see, it does not matter ».