Marianne Vos (WaowDeals pro cycling) won stage eight of the Giro Rosa, ahead of best placed Italian rider Elisa Longo Borghini (Wiggle High5) and Sunweb’s Lucinda Brand.
The 126 kilometre stage from San Giorgio di Perlena to Breganze included two classified climbs, the second of which came with just 8km of the day remaining.
Both ascents caused major splits in the peloton, with the first chopping the group in two and the second forcing further selection.
The winning move came following the second climb, when the podium finishers broke away to build up a time gap of 30 seconds come the final kilometre.
Vos, who has three Giro Rosa general classification wins to her name, was fastest of the trio with Georgia Bronzini (Cylance) winning the bunch sprint behind.
How it happened
A reduced peloton of 142 riders – down from 165 at the start of the race – rolled out of the host town, and it wasn’t long before the race became active.
The first intermediate sprint came after just 11km, with Lucinda Brand (Sunweb) taking the lion-share of points ahead of Alexis Ryan (Canyon-SRAM) and Brand’s Sunweb team mate Leah Kirchmann.
The day’s first selection looked set to kick off come the first ascent to Schiavon.
Sure enough, with 100km to go the bunch was stretched out over the climb, with around 60 riders losing contact.
Just 4km later Rossella Ratto (Cylance), Aude Biannic (Movistar) and Ana Maria Covrig (Eurotarget–Bianchi–Vitasana) achieved some distance over the 70 or so riders still in contention.
Chloe Hosking (Ale-Cippolini) looked set to bridge to the trio, but after Christine Majerus (Boels-Dolmans) put in an attack, a select group chased her down and also closed the space between themselves and the earlier break.
In the end, Longo Borghini was first to the top of the ascent, with 2018 Giro Rosa stage winners Ruth Winder (Sunweb) and Amanda Spratt (Mitchelton Scott) second and third.
With around 67km covered, the front bunch was ahead of those dropped on the climb by 3 minutes 40 seconds.
The leaders were by no means settled though, and multiple attacks enlivened the race – including a hopeful bunch of nine which included Longo Borghini alongside Amy Pieters (Boels-Dolmans), Hosking (Ale-Cippolini), Tiffany Cromwell (Canyon-SRAM), Lotta Lepistö (Cervelo-Bigla), Rossella Ratto (Cylance), Liane Lippert (Sunweb), Anouska Koster (WaowDeals) and Amy Cure (Wiggle High5).
Unrepresented teams weren’t happy with a GC threat up the road, and the escapees were caught before they had gathered more than 20s of distance.
The second intermediate sprint lay around 20km to the line, and until that point the leading bunch remained largely in a rhythm, keeping the pace at around 41kph. The maximum points for the sprint went to Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio (Cervelo-Bigla) ahead of Brand and Lepistö.
The gap to the dropped riders sunk to 1-25 before increasing once again to 2 minutes, by which point it was clear they’d never regain contact.
The second ascent of the day came with 8km remaining, and once again cracks appeared in the main bunch. The majority, however, stayed together over the top of the climb and onto the downhill section before a flat finish.
With 2km remaining, Brand attacked, taking with her Vos and Longo Borghini and the trio set off in hot pursuit of the line.
They’d created a time gap of 30s come the final kilometre, leaving the trio to set about preparing to sprint.
Of the three, Vos showed herself to be the most powerful, taking the stage win which WaowDeals set as their goal for the 2018 race.
GC leader Annemiek van Vleuten (Mitchelton-Scott) crossed the line 23s down on Vos, and holds on to the maglia rosa.
Giro Rosa, stage eight, San Giorgio di Perlena to Breganze (126km)
1. Marianne Vos (Ned) WaowDeals
2. Elisa Longo Borghini (Ita) Wiggle High5
3. Lucinda Brand (Ned) Sunweb, at same time
4. Giorgia Bronzini (Ita) Cylance, at 23s
5. Sorya Paladin (Ita) Alé Cipollini
6. Maria Giulia Confalonieri (Ita) Valcae PBM
7. Sofia Bertizzolo (Ita) Astana
8. Elena Cecchini (Ita) Canyon-SRAM
9. Nadia Quagliotto (Ita) Top Girls Fassa Bortolo
10. Eugenia Bujak (Slo) BTC City Ljubljana
General Classification after stage eight
1. Annemiek van Vleuten (Ned) Mitchelton-Scott
2. Lucinda Brand (Ned) Sunweb at 2-32
2. Ashleigh Moolman (RSA) Cervelo Bigla at 1-51
3. Amanda Spratt (Aus) Mitchelton-Scott at 2-53
5. Katarzyna Niewiadoma (Pol) Canyon-SRAM at 4-21
6. Megan Guarnier (USA) Boels-Dolmance at 4-33
7. Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig (Den) Cervelo-Bigla at 4-39
8. Ruth Winder (USA) Sunweb at 5-52
9. Elisa Longo Borghini (Ita) Wiggle High5 at 6-05
10. Sabrina Stultiens (Ned) WaowDeals at 6-36