|Stage seven winner Annemiek van Vleuten took a phenomenal solo victory up the iconic Monte Zoncolan at the Giro-Rosa today.
Wearing the Maglia Rosa she crossed the line 40seconds faster than her nearest rival to extend her overall lead by three minutes and 35seconds with one-day remaining
After a fast start and once again many attacks, finally a breakaway of three riders formed a one-minute lead over the peloton.
The race passed through a rain storm, which saw the peloton split slightly and the trio were finally reeled in with 15km remaining.
The first time from the Ovaro side
Today was the first time in history the women headed up the climb from the Ovaro side like the men’s peloton earlier this year in the Giro d’Italia where Simon Yates finished second.
The only other time the Zoncolan was used in the women’s race was back in 1997 when the riders headed up the climb from the other side.
As the riders started the climb, a high pace was set by Boels-Dolmans with Megan Guarnier causing the front of the race to reduce to around 15 riders.
On the first real steep section it was Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio (Cervelo-Bigla) who made a big acceleration with only van Vleuten able to follow.
Focussed on the stage win
With confidence after dominating in the uphill time trial on Thursday, van Vleuten waited patiently before accelerating away from Moolman with two kilometres to go and to an emphatic solo stage win.
Teammate Amanda Spratt also fought on behind, crossing the line in third place to jump back up into third place overall with one stage remaining.
Van Vleuten now heads into the 10th and final stage with a three minutes 35seconds advantage over her rivals.
Annemiek van Vleuten – Stage 9 winner and race leader
“Today was epic on the Zoncolan, but I loved it. I was looking forward to this day and of course defending the GC and the Maglia Rosa was my primary objective, but I also wanted to win this stage really, really badly.”
“It’s awesome that the Queen Stage was organised on such a famous climb like Monte Zoncolan, it’s really good for women’s cycling and makes the day unforgettable. It is such a hard climb, so steep that it was difficult to put pressure on the front wheel.
“I didn’t recon the climb beforehand, but I knew it was steep and I actually had something left to attack Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio because I really wanted to win and the last few hundred metres there were so many people clapping and cheering, it was so special, and I had a little bit of time to enjoy the moment.”
Amanda Spratt – Third place
“It was such a brutal climb, kind of a mixture of fear and excitement because the Zoncolan is so iconic but also so hard, so I was thinking about how I was going to pace it and make sure I had enough fuel on board, but I was basically ready to suffer and suffer.”
“I was a little bit worried because I didn’t feel good on yesterday’s stage, but the girls did a great job of looking after Annemiek and myself throughout the day and they led us perfectly onto the climb.
“Everyone is tired now after nine days of hard racing and I think a lot of it is mental and comes down to how much you can suffer and keep pushing yourself to stay up there.”
Giro-Rosa stage 9 results:
General classification after stage 9: