Van Vleuten takes pink at the Giro Rosa with classic solo attack on stage twoSat 12 Sep 2020
Two-time defending champion Annemiek van Vleuten soloed to victory in classic style on stage to move into the race lead of the Giro Rosa.
The world champion attacked at the foot of the final climb on the last off-road sector and despite having to dismount on the brutal slopes, the 37-year-old held on to take her 11th career win at the only women's Grand Tour.
The stage was tipped to be a dramatic one, with two gravel sectors bookending the 124km day. The first stretch of Strade Bianche style roads came within the first 20km, and while the race did split apart on the dusty roads, there was a regrouping once the pack hit the smoother tarmac.
A number of attacks then came and went before Julie Van De Velde (Lotto Soudal) opened up an advantage of 50-seconds over a reduced peloton of around 50 riders.
Four riders then attempted to bridge across to the solo leader, but the move was soon shut down inside the final 50km. Another lone attack then went as the bunch approached the final off-road section, but again the peloton reeled the effort back in.
Mitchelton-SCOTT knew how crucial the section would be, and Australian Grace Brown drove the pace onto the dirt roads, putting several riders into difficulty before the climb. Several riders tried their luck at escaping, but it was Van Vleuten’s acceleration that proved to be too much for the rest of the bunch.
However, drama hit when the newly crowned European champion was forced to unclip and run up the steep gravel incline. The chasers were closing in, but the reigning champion remained calm and remounted, before pressing on as she reached the smooth roads towards the finish.
With little information of where her rivals were, Van Vleuten continued to dig deep as she raced towards the finish. There was no catching the double time trial world champion as she put 1'16" into her nearest rivals, handing her a handsome overall lead heading into stage three.
Annemiek van Vleuten:
“I went all out today; I went from the bottom with 16km to go to take as much time as possible because this Giro we don’t have an uphill finish. Maybe the race will come down to seconds in the end so every second is useful.
“It was a time trial from the start of the gravel section, I wanted to hit it as the first one, I did that and then I just went. We did a recon of this stage so I knew the gravel section was really hard and super technical and there was a bit of a risk of unclipping, so that is why I went from the bottom. Today was an opportunity to take time and I am happy I took it.
“It is very special to wear the jersey, I am here with my team to go for my third victory but there’s so many days to come so I am not thinking about pink at the moment, I will just race and focus everyday as it is really needed at this Giro-Rosa.”
Andrew Smith (Sports Director):
“It was good work, especially Grace who did a great job lining it up for Annemiek and Spratty before the gravel section, so it was really good teamwork.
"Annemiek is just on another level, she even had a bit of a walk just because the gravel was super bad on that final section and she had to get off but kept her calm and showed her class.”
Giro Rosa Stage 2 – Results:
1. Annemiek van Vleuten (Mitchelton-SCOTT) 3:53:20
2. Anna van der Breggen (Boels – Dolmans) +1:16
3. Katarzyna Niewiadoma (Canyon SRAM) ST
Giro Rosa – General Classification after Stage 2:
1. Annemiek van Vleuten (Mitchelton-SCOTT) 4:13:20
2. Anna van der Breggen (Boels – Dolmans) +1:18
3. Katarzyna Niewiadoma (Canyon SRAM) +1:33
Photos courtesy of Getty Images.