Annemiek van Vleuten powered to victory on stage six of the Giro Rosa, extending her lead in the overall classification.
The Dutch woman, who former podium finisher Elisa Longo Borghini (Trek Segafredo) described as an “alien” among humans, finished the 12.1 kilometre uphill time trial in 24 minutes 31 seconds.
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Having won stage five with an 11-kilometre solo attack on the final climb, Van Vleuten joked after the time trial: “It was like, copy and paste from yesterday’s solo attack.”
However, speaking to Cycling Weekly, she also called her day in the saddle an “epic suffering.”
“It was super hard and you just go all out. People think if you’re in great shape, a time trial doesn’t hurt. They are wrong, you hurt to the max, because otherwise you don’t gain enough time,” she said.
The only rider able to get within a minute of the 36-year-olds time was second placed Anna van der Breggen (Boels-Dolmans), who finished 53s down on the winner.
Van de Breggen’s performance sees her move up to third on GC, neck-and-neck with Kasia Niewiadoma (Canyon-SRAM) – both riders are 4-17 down on Van Vleuten.
Home favourite and currently the best Italian rider, Longo Borghini was third on the stage, finishing in 26-19.
As the reigning champion, Van Vleuten was the last rider to descend the start ramp, setting off two minutes after Niewiadoma.
Van Vleuten was able to make up the time, storming past her rival before she could reach the finish banner, to succeed the Polish rider who finished sixth on the stage by 2-01.
Former British time trial champion Hannah Barnes (Canyon-SRAM) enjoyed some time in the hot seat, before being ousted as times began to fall – her own time of 27-11 good enough for 12th.
The 12.1 km time trial from Chiuro to Teglio opened with a slight descent, before the road began to climb.
Though uphill, it was not as steep as in previous years, where ramps as tough as 20 per cent have sprung up unexpectedly.
The split between road bike and time trial bike use was fairly even, however most of the top times came from TT bikes and all three podium finishers opted for extensions over drop bars.
Tomorrow’s 128.3km stage from Cornedo Vicentino to San Giorgio di Perlena/Fara Vicentino features several steep climbs, including the Culmine Salita Della Rosina which the peloton will race over twice, ahead of an uphill finish en route to Fara.
Looking ahead, 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.”
Catch up on the race so far:
- Canyon-SRAM win Giro Rosa stage one TTT with most teams strung out by the finish
- Marianne Vos powers to stage two victory at Giro Rosa
- Marianne Vos snatches victory on stage three of the Giro Rosa after Lucy Kennedy celebrates too early
- Breakaway win on Giro Rosa stage four whilst Niewiadoma holds on to the lead
- Annemiek van Vleuten wins Giro Rosa stage five to take the maglia rosa
Giro Rosa, stage six: Chiuro to Teglio (12.1km)
1 Annemiek van Vleuten (Mitchelton-Scott) in 24-31
2 Anna van der Breggen (Boels-Dolmans), at 53s
3 Elisa Longo Borghini (Trek-Segafredo), at 1-48
4 Lucinda Brand (Sunweb), at 1-50
5 Juliette Labous (Sunweb), at 1-54
6 Kasia Niewiadoma (Canyon-SRAM), at 2-01
7 Katie Hall (Boels Dolmans), at 2-04
8 Amanda Spratt (Mitchelton Scott), at 2-09
9 Tayler Wiles (Trek-Segafredo), at 2-22
10 Erica Magnaldi (WNT-Rotor), at 2-30
General classification after stage six
1 Annemiek van Vleuten (Mitchelton Scott), in 11-42
2 Katarzyna Niewiadoma (Canyon-SRAM), at 4-17
3 Anna van der Breggen (Boels Dolmans), at same time
4 Lucinda Brand (Team Sunweb), at 5-17
5 Amanda Spratt (Mitchelton Scott), at 5-21
6 Elisa Longo Borghini (Trek-Segafredo), at 5-47
7 Katie Hall (Boels Dolmans), at 6-08
8 Juliette Labous (Team Sunweb), at 6-20
9 Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio (CCC-Liv), at 6-33
10 Erica Magnaldi (WNT-Rotor), at 6-34