By Owen Rogers
Anna van der Breggen put in a stunning performance to take an emphatic victory in the Giro Donne mountain time trial on Monday. The world road and TT champion put a remarkable 1-05 into her SDWorx team-mate, Demi Vollering, in second place with Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio in fourth.
Only BikeExchange’s Grace Brown (BikeExchange) was able to mount any sort of challenge, splitting the Dutch team’s bid for a second stage podium lockout, finishing third, 1-15 behind the winner.
The victory, achieved with a time of 24-57 for the 11.2km course, further extends SDWorx’s vice-like grip on the general classification, with Van der Breggen now 2-51 ahead of Moolman-Pasio with Vollering a further 12 seconds down.
SDWorx's nearest challenger is one of their former riders, Lizzie Deignan, who is now fourth overall, 2-50 behind Vollering, making it possible, even likely, that SDWorx will fill the final podium next Sunday.
Deignan had an excellent race, especially for a rider who has professed her dislike of time trialling and played down her climbing ability. Her position in GC and her advantage over the next best Trek-Segafredo rider would suggest she will be protected in the remaining six stages.
How it happened
If the stage two mountain top finish hadn’t gone a long way to deciding the general classification then Monday’s individual mountain time trial surely would.
The 11.2km test high up in the Alps, 160km north of Turin and close to the Swiss border, was relatively straightforward, but the altitude gain of over 500m made it a tough challenge for a peloton already reeling from three tough days. An average of 5.3 per cent hid the benign start and aggressive final, which kicked up to 10 per cent just under half way and staying above 8 per cent for the rest of the ride.
Twenty-one year-old Swiss rider Lara Krähemann (Born To Win G20 Ambedo) was first of the 138 remaining riders to start, setting a time of 30-39, and though that was to be far from the slowest time, it would not last.
British rider Leah Dixon (Tibco-Silicon Valley Bank) was one of those to go faster, her time of 29-35 briefly the fastest, but it was Sara Casasola’s (Servetto-Makhymo-Beltrami) 28-49 which was best when the race took a 50 minute break to allow team cars back down the mountain.
The second tranche of riders saw Casasola’s time beaten, first by Brodie Chapman (FDJ-Nouvelle Aquitaine Futuroscope), but then conclusively by her compatriot and former Australian time trial champion, Grace Brown (BikeExchange), who was more than two minutes faster wwith a staggering 26-14.
One by one, the other great and good riders of the women’s sport and Brown’s time held, no one able to get within one minute of the 28 year-old until the top 20 placed riders began to arrive, Marta Cavalli (FDJ-Nouvelle Aquitaine Futuroscope) stopping the clock in 26-51.
However, when Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio (SDWorx) and race leader Anna van der Breggen clocked consecutive fastest intermediate times, the Australian was less secure.
A near flat day with only around 500m of ascent, Tuesday’s fifth stage will at last offer a first opportunity for the sprinters, with a 120.1km route around the Milan suburb of Carugate.
Giro d’Italia Donne, stage 4: Formazza Fondovalle - Formazza Riale (11.2km)
1. Anna van der Breggen (Ned) SDworx in 24-57-57
2. Demi Vollering (Ned) SDworx at 1-06
3. Grace Brown (Aus) BikeExchange at 1-17
4. Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio (RSA) at 1-30
5. Marta Cavalli (FDJ-Nouvelle Aquitaine Futuroscope at 1-55
6. Juliette Labous (Fra) DSM at 2-14
7. Katrine Aalerud (Nor) Movistar at 2-15
8. Lizzie Deignan (GBr) Trek-Segafredo at 2-22
9. Gaia Realini (Ita) Isolmant-Premac-Vittoria at 2-2
10. Elisa Longo Borghini (Ita) Trek-Segafredo at 2-38
General classification after stage 4
1. Anna van der Breggen (Ned) SDWorx in 7-40-53
2. Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio (RSA) SDWorx at 2-51
3. Demi Vollering (Ned) SDWorx at 3-03
4. Lizzie Deignan (GBr) Trek-Segafredo at 5-53
5. Elise Chabbey (Sui) Canyon-SRAM at 6-12
6. Erica Magnaldi (Ita) Ceratizit-WNT at 6-35
7. Mavi Garcia (Esp) Alé-BTC Ljubljana at 6-37
8. Juliette Labous (Fra) DSM at 7-03
9. Niamh Fisher-Black (NZl) SDWorx at 7-22
10. Tatiana Guderzo (Ita) Alé-BTC Ljubljana at 7-24
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