Marianne Vos took her first stage win of the 2020 Giro Rosa in Assisi on Sunday after what was a turgid day in Italy.
The former world champion overhauled an early move on the final climb to Assisi to add to her incredible array of victories at what is the longest stage race on the women’s calendar.
Stung after losing the race lead on yesterdays’s stage, Trek-Segafredo’s Elisa Longo Borghini launched an early move as the front of the race passed under the flame rouge. It was only there that the steepness of the climb to the UNESCO World Heritage site because clear.
With the ascent averaging 15% over one kilometre, Vos bade her time, and as the climb wore on she and Danish rider Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig (FDJ-Nouvelle Aquitaine Futuroscope) drew level with the Italian, the three riding abreast as they passed 300m to go.
Only in the final metres was Vos able to weave her way clear to take the win, with Uttrup Ludwig bagging up fourth place stage two with second today. Longo Borghini held on to take third place.
Finishing a few second back, Annemiek van Vleuten (Mitchelton-Scott) retains the overall lead with six stages remaining.
Finishing fifth, only 12 seconds back Annemiek van Vleuten retains the overall lead with six stages remaining.
How it happened
The final ascent up Piaggia di San Franceso was only added after the original route to Assisi was changed because of a landslide, changing the complexion of the rac, the peloton not knowing what to expect.
Other parts of the route were changed as well with an intermediate sprint removed and the classified climb at 50km removed.
With riders warming up on turbo trainers and expecting a tough opening climb, but what they found though was an opening 10km which was largely downhill, with the first climb on the 142.2km course between Santa Fiora and Assisi coming only after 20km.
Onto repeated climbs of about five kilometres, and similar fast descents, the bunch stayed together throughout, the Tuscan hills giving little shelter from another day of searing sun.
Only when the race crossed the regional border into Umbria, reaching flatter terrain 63km in, was there a breakaway, when former Polish champion Małgorzata Jasinska (Crono Casa Dorada) made a move off the front.
Jasinska is an expert breakaway rider but despite starting the day some 28 minutes behind overall leader Van Vleuten, she was unable to gain any meaningful advantage and she was caught after only five kilometres, having only managed a 30 second lead.
Even on the flatter land around Perugia where control might have proved easier, no escape was allowed to go.
Inside the final 30km Australian Rachel Neylan (Cronos Casa Dorada) attacked the bunch, but once again the leader gained little more than 20 seconds before the bunch, with Van Vleuten coming to the front bringing her back.
Assisi sits on the hillside and its monasteries are visible for miles around and as it grew ever closer the race quickened. With such a large peloton the final kilometres were truly chaotic, teams fighting for position, though it was Vos’s CCC-Liv squad who positioned her for the final climb.
At 170km, tomorrow’s fourth stage between Assisi and Tivoli is the longest race day since the creation of the Women’s WorldTour in 2016. Another lumpy day the riders will tackle another short, steep climb to the line.
Giro d’Italia Internazionale Femminile, stage three: Santa Fiora – Assisi (142.2km)
1. Marianne Vos (Ned) CCC-Liv in 3-53-34
2. Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig (Den) FDJ-Nouvelle Aquitaine Futuroscope at 2 sec
3. Elisa Longo Borghini (Ita) Trek-Segafredo at 5 sec
4. Liane Lippert (Ger) Sunweb at 8 sec
5. Annemiek van Vleuten (Ned) Mitchelton-Scott at 12 sec
6. Lotte Kopecky (Bel) Lotto-Soudal at 13 sec
7. Anna van der Breggen (Ned) Boels-Dolmans at 16 sec
8. Ashleigh Moolman-Pasion (RSA) CCC-Liv
9. Kasia Niewiadoma (Pol) Canyon-SRAM all at same time
10. Mavi García (Esp) Alé-BTC Ljubljana at 19 sec
General classification after stage three
1. Annemiek van Vleuten (Ned) Mitchelton Scott in 8-07-06
2. Anna van der Breggen (Ned) Boels-Dolmans at 1-22
3. Kasia Niewiadoma (Pol) Canyon SRAM at 1-37
4. Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig (Den) FDJ-Nouvelle Aquitaine Futuroscope at 2-38
5. Mikayla Harvey (NZ) Equipe Paule Ka at 3-40
6. Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio (RSA) CCC-Liv at 3-58
7. Mavi García (Esp) Ale-BTC Ljubljana at 4-01
8. Amanda Spratt (Aus) Mitchelton-Scott at 4-08
9. Elisa Longo Borghini (Ita) Trek-Segafredo at 4-16
10 Marianne Vos (Ned) CCC-Liv at 4-53