Annemiek Van Vleuten (Mitchelton-Scott) soloed to victory in stage 5 of the Giro d’Italia Internationale Femminile, attacking from long range and dominating the race to take the win by nearly three minutes. She now leads Kasia Niewiadoma (Canyon-SRAM) by over two minutes in the overall.
“I know the roads here very well and knew I had to attack from the bottom to gain as much time as possible,” Van Vleuten said after the stage. “But it was 10 kilometers of epic suffering.”
The peloton disintegrated on the first climb of the day, before a group of 45 riders came back together in the subsequent valley. Next, Nikola Nosková (Bigla) jumped clear to a lead of some two minutes. Leah Kirchmann (Sunweb) and Pauliena Rooijakkers (CCC-Liv) attacked to try and catch Nosková inside the last 30 kilometers. The Czech rider waited for the duo, and then the three collectively pushed on.
The fifth stage of the Giro Rosa was meant to finish on the Passo Gavia, at 2,652 meters of elevation. Race organizers cancelled the climb, however, because of landslides in the area that forced authorities to shut down the roads. Instead, the stage climbed Passo Fraele to the Lago di Cancano in Valdidentro. That meant the route was reduced from 100km to 88km.
Kirchmann, Rooijakkers, and Nosková came to the base of the last climb together. With nine kilometers to go, Van Vleuten attacked from the field and immediately distanced herself from the other GC contenders. She quickly caught and passed the breakaway, and won the race by a massive 2:57 ahead of runner-up Lucinda Brand (Sunweb) and overnight leader Niewiadoma.
“I witnessed it … I saw when Annemiek went, and everybody was like ‘Okay, the alien is gone and now the race for human beings begins,'” said Elisa Longo Borghini (Trek-Segafredo) in a post-race video posted on the team’s Twitter.
Brand said the tempo at the bottom of the climb was already hard, and that when Van Vleuten attacked, none of the others reacted.
“Our group just rode a steady pace up the climb, but we were all looking at each other at points,” she said.
Van Vleuten is the new leader on GC, while Niewiadoma drops to second place.
“I can sleep a little relaxed tonight knowing it’s some more seconds gained and I know now I have good legs,” van Vleuten said. “I just put out a big effort but to finish around three-minutes in front, it’s more than expected.”
Giro Rosa, stage 5
1. Annemiek Van Vleuten (Mitchelton-Scott)
2. Lucinda Brand (Sunweb), + 2.57
3. Kasia Niewiadoma (Canyon-SRAM) s.t.
4. Soraya Paladin (Alé Cipollini) s.t.
5. Amanda Spratt (Mitchelton-Scott) s.t.
6. Anna van der Breggen (Boels-Dolmans) s.t.
7. Ashleigh Moolman (CCC-Liv) s.t.
8. Erica Magnaldi (WNT-Rotor) s.t.
9. Elisa Longo Borghini (Trek-Segafredo) s.t.
10. Demi Vollering (Parkhotel Valkenburg), + 3.25
GC after stage 5
1. Annemiek van Vleuten
2. Kasia Niewiadoma, + 2.16
3. Ashleigh Moolman, + 3.05
4. Amanda Spratt, + 3.12
5. Anna van der Breggen, + 3.24
6. Lucinda Brand, + 3.27
7. Elisa Longo Borghini, + 3.59
8. Katie Hall, + 4.04
9. Erica Magnaldi, + 4.10
10. Juliette Labous, + 4.26