Van Vleuten retains Giro Rosa race lead with fifth on stage three


World champion Annemiek van Vleuten extened her overall race lead at the Giro Rosa as stage three came down to an uphill showdown in Assisi.

The newly crowned European champion climbed to fifth place on the day, as the peloton tackled the brutally steep climb up to the historic Basilica of St. Francis, and gained four seconds over her nearest rival Anna van der Breggen (Boels – Dolmans).

Up and Down
There was no chance of the peloton easing into stage three after yesterday’s difficult opening road stage. The bunch were straight into the hills as they rolled out of Santa Fiora, and it was up and down for the majority of the first half of the race.

No breakaway attempts were made inside the first 50-kilometres until a flurry of solo attackers briefly escaped. Mitchelton-SCOTT were alert to each move, with Van Vleuten riding on the front as she kept an eye on the moves.

The bunch became nervous with around 30kilometres to go with a threat of crosswinds rumoured, but the winds failed materialise.

Uphill Showdown
Despite several attempts to break free from various riders, it was clear that the stage would be decided on the brutal ascent to the finish line in the picturesque town of Assisi.

The pace was rapid as the peloton negotiated the narrow streets on the approach to the foot of the short, steep ramp.

Van Vleuten found herself out of position and was forced to brake as riders raced into the bottom of the climb, with the 37-year-old unable to get back on terms with those out front.

Marianne Vos (CCC Liv) proved to be the strongest on the day and took the win, with Van Vleuten crossing the line in fifth to safely retain the Maglia Rosa.

Annemiek van Vleuten:
“I knew when I saw this finish that it was really a Marianne Vos finish, for me it was about not losing time, so I wanted to not be out of position. Actually, I was a little bit out of position, and I had to make up gaps, but I was not there for the win today.

“I had a really good day on the bike and with my team, all day in control and at the front so a really good day for us.

“I love the heat, it’s good for me, everything that makes it hard is good for me, you just have to drink more.”

Giro Rosa 2020 Stage 3 – Results:
1. Marianne Vos (CCC – Liv) 3:53:34
2. Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig (FDJ Nouvelle Aquitaine Futuroscope) +0:02
3. Elisa Longo Borghini (Trek-Segafredo) +0:05
5. Annemiek van Vleuten (Mitchelton-SCOTT) +0:12

Giro Rosa 2020 – General Classification after Stage 3:
1. Annemiek van Vleuten (Mitchelton-SCOTT) 8:07:06
2. Anna van der Breggen (Boels – Dolmans) +1:22
3. Katarzyna Niewiadoma (Canyon SRAM) +1:37

Photo courtesy of Getty Images.