It's a wrap. The second of the WWT 'Grand Tours' is over and it was another masterclass by the Dutch legend that is Annemiek van Vleuten. But there were also promising performances by younger riders, including an impressive second place from Team DSM's Juliette Labous, a rider who has been knocking at the door of breaking through to greater success for a couple of years now, and who showed her mettle in challenging conditions and against a strong field.
This final round-up will take a quick look at the stages that straddled the rest day - Thursday's stage 7, and the weekend's final stages, 8 and 9, along with featuring contributions from our two riders from within the peloton, Eri Yonamine and Beatriz Pereira.
It's strange to have a rest day and return to just two more days of racing, and it seemed to have marked a turning point meteorologically speaking too, as from the torrential rain of the beginning of the race and unsettled, stormy weather after that, it shifted to blazing heat with over 40 degrees recorded on stage 8. The conditions posed many challenges for the riders, as did the terrain, and it's fair to say it's been a tumultuous race, both beforehand and during - let's remind ourselves how the final stages played out.
Today in a word
by Peter Barnes
secondo (noun masculine) - second (both of time and position)
Cycling is often said to be a sport defined by seconds. I know I’ve described it that way in the past and it’s no more apparent than in this Giro.
The race has a strange relationship with seconds. It even skipped stage one and started on the second. Annemiek has been taking bucketloads of seconds out of her competitors.
Speaking of her competitors, it’s not been the most advantageous position to be second to van Vleuten. So far four riders have occupied that space overall and of those Elisa Longo-Borghini and Antonia Niedermaier had horrendous crashes. Veronica Ewers at least avoided that misfortune but she lost a lot of time today and now Juliette Labous is immediately behind Annemiek overall.
Given the track record of that position it might not be good to be there, however it would represent her best finish in a women’s Grand Tour. If she can maintain that form into the Tour de France Femmes then I predict some fearsome results.
In winning today, Annemiek has continued her fearsome form and increased her victory tally. In a sport of seconds, this is her second victory (plus the other hundred she has in her career).
Post-rest day summary
Stage 8 went for the sprinters. In Sassari, Blanka Vas took the stage for Team SD Worx, after a strong start to her sprint from Marianne Vos ended in frustration when she appeared to suffer a mechanical. It was notable that it was just the second win for the Dutch super-team at a race in which they've been conspicuously absent, by their usual standards.
Stage 9 was another sprint, this time won by Chiara Consonni of UAE Team ADQ. Marianne Vos once again came close to notching up her 33rd Giro stage win, but the Italian proved too strong for her at the final.
To tell the truth, with the GC wrapped up, Van Vleuten's closest challengers crashing out of the race, and just sprint stages to conclude, everything after the rest day felt like something of an anti-climax, from an outsider's perspective. It is of course partly down to luck (or lack thereof) but it stems in part from course design, and once again, I am left looking forward to the RCS takeover, and the wind of change that will hopefully refresh the race and improve upon the format, timing and organisation, both for the sake of the riders and the fans.
Diary of a Debutante
Beatriz Pereira of Bizkaia Durango has been kind enough to share some of her feelings about riding her debut Giro Donne, with Emma Bianchi. Here were her thoughts about completing the race.
Eri Yonamine's What3Words
Many thanks to Human Powered Health's Eri Yonamine for providing her thoughts throughout the Giro Donne - it's been a pleasure to hear from her and to find out how she has seen each stage, both before and after.