Former Italian national champion Elisa Longo Borghini referred to Giro Rosa leader Annemiek van Vleuten as an “alien” following the Dutchwoman’s dominant solo attack on the summit finish of stage five.
Speaking of the moment 36-year-old Van Vleuten attacked, the 2017 podium finisher said “it [the attack] went, and everybody was like ‘ok, the alien has gone, now the race for the human beings begins.'”
Responding to the comment, Van Vleuten retweeted the video shared by the Trek-Segafredo team with a monkey and laughing emoji.
The last time the race visited the ascent in 2011, Emma Pooley wo, stringing out the peloton to finish just ahead of Marianne Vos, 1 minute 29 in front of the third placed rider.
Van Vleuten almost doubled this lead, to complete the race 2-57 before Lucinda Brand (Sunweb) reached the line.
Longo Borghini, the best Italian placed rider so far this year, finished the stage in ninth place, with a group of GC contenders rolling over the line in a bunch.
Van Vleuten went on to win the stage six time trial, almost a minute quicker than Anna van der Breggen (Boels-Domans), with Longo-Borghini in third at 1-48.
Speaking to Cycling Weekly after her time trial win, Van Vleuten said: “There’s four super hard days ahead. But not many surprises for us, we reconned the stages coming up.
“It’s not over ’til Sunday, I have to take it day by day and keep focused with my team. But I can go to sleep a little bit more relaxed tonight, knowing that I don’t need to sprint for bonus seconds.”
In 2018, Van Vleuten took the top step on three stages, securing a general classification win with a margin of 4-12 ahead of Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio (then Cervelo-Bigla).
That year, she won the 15km time trial from Lanzada to Diga di Campo Moro by 2-28.
Days later, at La Course, she put in a late surge to pip current UCI world road race champion Anna van der Breggen on the line, claiming victory at the one day race organised by the Tour de France planners.
Van Vleuten’s lead up to the Giro has featured several long blocks training at altitude, including joining the Mitchelton-Scott men’s stage race squad in Tenerife in February, before more time training up high in June, alongside team mates and compatriot Brand.