Annemiek van Vleuten sets GC mark with 100th career win

The Giro Donne truly took off on Saturday following a botched start the day before. Annemiek van Vleuten, a world champion cyclist, proved herself the victor of the second stage. She pulled ahead of her competition on the last climb of the day, maintaining her lead until she reached the finish line in Marradi. This win was a milestone for Van Vleuten, marking her 100th UCI victory. Additionally, she secured the race’s first pink jersey.

Today’s route consisted of a single but substantial climb. The Passo della Colla stretched nearly ten kilometres at a gentle six per cent gradient. The peak was 16.5 kilometres from the finish, setting the stage for an exciting climax.

Before the riders reached the Passo della Colla, the course was flat. The break of the day came from Irene Mendez (Bizkaia Durango) and Susanne Andersen (Uno-X) who established a four-minute lead. However, an attempted counterattack by Beatrice Pozzobon (Mendelspeck) and Giorgia Bariani (Top Girls Fassa Bortolo) was less successful, leaving them stranded in a chasse patate.

At the beginning of the Passo della Colla, as the rain began to pour again, Mendez and Andersen’s lead was significantly reduced. When they were only five kilometres from the peak, they were overtaken by the main group. Unfortunately, a thunderstorm interfered with the race’s television coverage, leaving viewers in the dark.

Despite the technical difficulties, updates from the race trickled in. A group formed consisting of Elisa Longo Borghini, Gaia Realini, Marta Cavalli, Ane Santesteban, Mavi García, and Annemiek van Vleuten. Van Vleuten found extra energy reserves and broke away from this group near the top of the climb. She started the descent with a lead of over half a minute, pursued by Cavalli and Realini.

The gap between Van Vleuten and her pursuers grew slightly over the next few kilometres but increased significantly about five kilometres from the end as Longo Borghini and García caught up. Van Vleuten, however, remained uncatchable. The world champion crossed the Marradi finish line alone, marking her first victory in her rainbow jersey. Despite her win, she won’t start in the rainbow jersey on Sunday, having earned the pink.

The chase group finished the race about 45 seconds after Van Vleuten. Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig (FDJ-SUEZ) came in second, while Juliette Labous (Team DSM) secured third place.

“That makes it very special to take this win. And all of this in my favourite racing country, alongside Spain. The Giro is also my favourite race. Wow, it’s unbelievable.

There were two sections where I could attack, there were two one-kilometre sections at seven percent. These were the slightly steeper sections. But the other teams were setting a solid pace, so I waited and didn’t use the first opportunity.

On the second section, I went for it and I was immediately alone. That surprised me a bit, especially considering the strong field here. This is of course my final season and therefore also my last Giro. So it’s really nice to wear the pink again in my last Giro.”

Annemiek van Vleuten

2023 Giro Donne Stage 2 result

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Photo Credits: Getty Sport / Movistar Team