Annemiek van Vleuten has happened.
She happens a lot, at the Giro Donne, as it happens. She happened to the La Vuelta Femenina too, earlier in the Spring, and you'd be a fool to bet against her happening again at the end of the month, at the Tour de France Femmes, which she happened to last year, at the first time of asking. She will hope to do so again.
It's a feat which, if she is successful, will not only mark two years running winning all three 'Grand' Tours (inverted commas to account for last year's Cetirazit Challenge by La Vuelta which Miek herself claimed didn't count) but will this year also mean victory at three Grand Tours in the rainbow bands.
And then her final tilt at the World Championships. Could she happen, once more, in Glasgow?
People have been quick to write off Van Vleuten, both this Spring and last, when the classics didn't all go her way, and this year when the might of SD Worx got the better of her on occasion.
But she's a woman who knows herself, and her abilities, and beyond all else, how to time her form to peak at the right time. She knows suffering, and she knows grit and determination, and how to totally and utterly annihilate a field of riders, when the time is right.
The time is now. It won't be for much longer, but rest assured - Annemiek van Vleuten is going out on a high.
Today in a word
with Peter Barnes
brutale (adjective) - brutal
Cycling is a cruel and unforgiving sport. With one event your ambitions and dreams can be snatched away from you. A sport of millimetres, where the slightest mistake can be the difference between immortality and becoming a name recalled by the most ardent of fans.
Speaking of immortality, Annemiek van Vleuten’s grip on the race is reinforced further today thanks to her attack in the latter stages. She is almost insatiable in her desire to keep building time against opponents; her attacks are so emphatic but never seemingly that dramatic.
She has an almost delicate brutality that deceives you into thinking she’s not piling time on others and yet she’s now over 3 minutes ahead of her nearest competitor, Veronica Ewers (EF Education-EasyPost).
Cycling is brutal in that way, and brutal in others, as a chance crash that I still don’t comprehend saw Urška Žigart (Jayco-Alula) lose control and collide into yesterday’s stage winner Antonia Niedermaier (Canyon//SRAM). It was a horrid crash and both riders had to withdraw from the race.
Cruel, brutal, unforgiving. Cycling isn’t always pretty but the spectacle keeps compelling us to watch.
Speedy stage preview
The final stage before a well-earned rest day, the race moves into the far north-west of Italy and for part of the day, the riders can enjoy the views and hopefully the fresh breeze of the Ligurian coast.
Stage 7 raises the pressure another notch as the riders face a series of climbs and more significantly, a summit finish, heading into Alassio.
Annemiek van Vleuten already has a stranglehold on the race and with her closest competitors crashing out, and plenty more climbing on the menu, it's more a case of how much more time will she gather, than if anyone else can catch her.
Lena's Giro Antipasti
Stage 7 - 3 facts about Alassio
- The town has historically been very much intertwined with ships. The first city wall around Alassio was built because of pirates, who attacked and plundered the town. The town has also taken part in several sea battles and had its own naval military force.
- The name Alassio stems from the legend of princess Adelasia who fled with the young squire Aleramo from the court of her father, Emperor Otto I. The lovebirds supposedly hid in the hills and founded the dynasty of the Aleramici.
- The town‘s economy is largely influenced by tourists from Northern Europe who come especially during the summer months to enjoy the beaches.
Giro Donne Debut diary - with Bizkaia Durango's Beatriz Pereira.
Our Emma Bianchi checked in with Beatriz yesterday.
Beatriz is riding her first Giro Donne. The 19-year-old fed back with some details of her condition.
Ciao for now and thanks for reading - tomorrow is a rest day, so we'll be with you next on Friday.