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The 39-year-old took over four minutes on most of her rivals when she won stage 3 in Cesena, and then solidified her lead with a second stage victory in Aldeno on Friday.
“[It feels different] because it was with my new team,” Van Vleuten said. “The others were the first for an Australian team, and now is actually also the first time for Movistar to target a big stage race. It was all new for us to find each other and it made it also more exciting.”
After winning two Giri with the then-Mitchelton-Scott team in 2018 and 2019, this year was Van Vleuten’s first Giro and her first Giro victory with Movistar. It marks the 16th grand tour win for the Movistar Team, but the first for its women’s programme.
“I’m super proud to target this with the team, a new experience for us with Movistar, also a new experience for all the girls and they did so well,” she added. “There was always a bit of tension [in the race] and everyone was focused, not only the girls but the whole staff, so I’m so proud of the whole team.
“It’s nice to win, but it’s way nicer to win together. A stage race is something I cannot do alone, and that’s where teamwork comes together and you need everyone in the team.”
— Movistar Team (@Movistar_Team) July 10, 2022
The Movistar team will go straight from its first attempt at a major tour to its second, as Van Vleuten takes aim at an impressive double at the Tour de France Femmes at the end of July.
Movistar will reportedly take a similar line-up of riders to the Tour, with Van Vleuten confident they have little to improve upon before the next goal.
“We did already 99% great,” Van Vleuten said. “With the Tour de France a little bit of tension will be added on to our team. For sure there’s more pressure, but I think there’s not many things we need to improve.
“With the girls I think we were finding each other perfectly, so I’m super proud and I’m also really confident that we will take most of those girls also to the Tour.”
Van Vleuten will now head to altitude camp in Italy to prepare for the Tour de France Femmes at the end of the month.
“It’s about recharging, especially mentally, not so much physically,” she said. “I think still I got up out of bed today with fresh legs, and I have had Giros where I was really smashed on the last days, but I think those hours help me to recover so well. So physically I don’t need a lot of time to recover.
“So I’ll go there [to altitude], invite some friends, have some fun, chill a bit, ride a bit, and then for sure I will be ready in two weeks for the Tour.”