Diana Žiliūtė was like a prototype version of Marianne Vos. A sprinter with some climbing ability who could win flat races and harder hilly races too. She got her first big results at age 20 in 1996 with a stage win in the Giro Rosa and 3rd place in the Trofeo Alfredo Binda. The following season she won 4 stages of the Giro Rosa on her way to 9th place Overall.
Diana Žiliūtė Rider History
Rider Type: Hilly Classics Specialist
1998 is when Žiliūtė announced herself as one of the best riders. She comprehensively won the year-long World Cup event, winning 2 of the 6 counting races. Her points total was more than double that of 2nd place Alessandra Cappellotto. She finished that season by winning the World Championships denying Leontien van Moorsel the chance to win a home championships in Valkenburg.
She wasn’t able to retain her title in Verona in 2009, but still finished on the podium in 3rd place. Žiliūtė also finished 3rd in the World Cup in 1999. She won the Grand Boucle (a women’s Tour de France) that season instead. Beating former winner (and fellow Lithuanian) Edita Pučinskaitė and Russian Valentina Polkhanova.
2000 saw Diana Žiliūtė outsprint Ina-Yoko Teutenberg to win the 2nd ever Primavera Rosa – a women’s Milan San Remo. She also took her best result in Flèche Wallonne to with 4th place. She won the World Cup for the 2nd time, this time less-dominantly with just 15 points advantage.
There was another podium with 3rd place at Trofeo Alfredo Binda the following season. But the most noticeable result was 2nd place Overall in the Giro Rosa. She followed this up with 3rd Overall in 2002 and 2nd place in the Primavera Rosa. The new focus on stage racing seemed to have an effect on her one-day racing results.
Another top-10 result in the Primavera Rosa at the start of 2003 was a good return to form that saw Žiliūtė win the 2003 Trofeo Alfredo Binda. She also won the Rund um die Nürnberger Altstadt, which was at the time, a World Cup race.
A quieter 2004 and a season spent racing less in 2005 was a period of not as much success. She came back well in 2006 to finish 2nd in all of the GP Brissago Lago Maggiore, Coppa dei Laghi and Trofeo Alfredo Binda. Then she won the GP Liberazione too. But these races generally are a level below the top levels of women’s cycling. She returned to the Grand Boucle in 2008 and finished 6th Overall with 3 stage wins. Diana Žiliūtė also took another podium in the Trofeo Alfredo Binda that season.
She finished her pro career in style in 2009. She won the Trophée d’Or and Giro Della Toscana stage races before finishing 13th Overall in La Route de France and 16th Overall in the Giro Rosa. In her last pro race, she finished 5th in the World Championships in Mendrisio.
Greatest Race Victory
2000 Primavera Rosa
On a good day weatherwise, the European World Cup season got underway at the Primavera Rosa. The pre-race favourites were Pia Sundstedt, Alessandra Cappellotto and Mirjam Melchers too. The first 70km was raced quickly but conservatively. The Capo Berta split some of the peloton but it was the Cipressa 20 km later that split the peloton up properly.
Cappellotto and Sundstedt both attacked here but the split group was back together by the bottom of the descent. Diana Žiliūtė was struggling on the climb but managed to hang on and regain contact afterwards. Just 40 riders remained at this point.
The Poggio was the next obstacle, just 10km from the finish. Again Pia Sundstedt attacked. She got a gap of 14 seconds over the summit but once again it all came back together on the descent. With 1km to go, Alessandra Capelotto launched an attack, whilst Diana Žiliūtė got herself onto teammate Marion Clignet’s wheel. Clignet hammered it to close the gap to Capelotto who was caught with 350 metres left to race. Clignet opened up her lead-out and Diana Žiliūtė came round her faster than anyone else to take the sprint victory.
Spring Classics Palmares
Trofeo Alfredo Binda