The most dramatic day of the Giro Donne so far saw Marianne Vos extended her record of stage wins to 32. The Dutch superstar won the sprint after a group of only 11 women survived the climb of Città Alta.
Lotte Kopecky (SDWorx) opened up the sprint first, but was unable to pass Vos, finishing second, with local rider Silvia Persico, from the local Valcar Travel and Service team, in third, the squad’s best result in this year’s Giro.
The final 10 kilometres of the race were hugely dramatic, the peloton catching late solo breakaway rider, Victoire Berteau (Cofidis) then fighting it out on the Città Alta climb. There, after a savage lead out form her Trek-Seagfredo team mate Lucinda Brand, Elisa Longo Borghini attacked. However, she was unable to drop Vos or Mavi García (UAE Team ADQ).
Overall leader Annemiek van Vleuten was caught out though, a crash causing her to unclip, and she was forced to chase, García being a GC threat only 25 seconds down at the start of the day. On the descent though, Van Vleuten brought the group back for the 11 woman sprint.
Tomorrow’s seventh day will expose any climbing weaknesses. The 112.9km stage starts in Prevalle, but finishes 1743m above sea level on the top of the Maniva.
How it happened
The Giro Donne is heading north, but, for now at least there is not significant drop off in the heat, with 33º forecast in Sarnico on the far south western tip of lake Isea, about half way between Brecsia and the finish town of Bergamo.
There was one big star in town as the riders were presented in the Conad supermarket car park, local resident and world champion Elisa Balsamo (Trek-Segafredo) receiving the biggest cheers as she and her team were presented with a flourish greater than that afforded to the overall leader, Annemiek van Vleuten (Movistar).
Essentially a circuit race with a tail, the bunch headed out for five laps of an 18km loop around Sernico, each with one third category climb. At only 1.8km at an average gradient of 5.7% that was unlikely to make a difference to most in the peloton, but it was the final, unclassified climb where the stage would be decided.
After the final lap the bunch headed west to Bergamo where, in a rerun of last year’s Il Lombardia they would tackle Città Alta, the 1.3km climb into Bergamo Alta, the highest part of the city. At 7.1% it is an uneven climb and local knowledge would be of benefit, even with the 3.3km run to the line. With the Valcar Travel and Service team based in Bergamo it would be down the riders like Silvia Persico to represent the home squad.
With pressure from Canyon-SRAM the race split slightly on the first ascent to San Pantaleone, only for it to reform on the descent. And that became the pattern of things.
Canyon-SRAM ensuring Elisa Chabbey could take the mountains points then relaxing again. But in the end the repetitive nature of the race and the heat of the previous days began to take their toll, and fewer riders would make it back to the front group.
Finally, after the third climb, and with 63km gone Francesca Pisciali (Mendelspeck) made her way off the front, though not for long, and when she was caught Alessia Vigilia (Topgirls Fassa Bortolo) got away, though only just, as she was left to dangle before being chased by Markéta Hájková (BePink) and Eukene Larrate (Bizkaia Durango).
While Vigilia was being chased the peloton sat back and left them to it, allowing a gap of over a minute to develop, but the chasers never caught the leader, and they were all caught by the peloton before the top of the final climb, 27km from the line.
Though overall leader Annemiek van Vleuten crested the top first, she was distanced on the descent, a small of four quality riders going clear and causing panic in the peloton. More attacks came in the run to the day’s only intermediate sprint, but with 23km to go Victoire Berteau got away. While there was a relative lull in the peloton, she was never able to gain more than a minute’s advantage, and was finally caught on the Città Alta climb
Result Race, stage six: Sarnico - Bergamo (114.7km)
1. Marianne Vos (Ned) Jumbo-Visma in 2-58-30
2. Lotte Kopecky (Bel) SDWorx
3. Silvia Persico (Ita) Valcar Travel and Service
4. Kristen Faulkner (USA) BikeExchange-Jayco
5. Amanda Spratt (Aus) BikeExchange-Jayco
6. Annemiek van Vleuten (Ned) Movistar
7. Marta Cavalli (Ita) FDJ-Nouvelle Aquitaine Futuroscope
8. Mavi García (Esp) UAE Tema ADQ
9. Elisa Longo Borghini (Ita) Trek-Segafredo
10. Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig (Den) FDJ-Nouvelle Aquitaine Futurosccope all at same time
General classification after stage six
1. Annemiek van Veuten (Ned) Movistar in 11-51-35
2. Mavi García (Esp) UAE Team ADQ Marta at 25 sec
3. Cavalli (Ita) FDJ-Nouvelle Aquitaine Futuroscope at 57 sec
4. Elisa Longo Borghini (Ita) Trek-Segafredo at 5-00
5. Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig (Den) Nouvelle Aquitaine Futuroscope at 5-13
6. Amanda Spratt (Aus) BikeExchange-Jayco at 5-14
7. Silvia Persico (Ita) Valcar Travel and Service 5-25
8. Niamh Fisher-Black (NZ) SDWorx at 5-28
9. Elise Chabbey (Sui) Canyon-SRAM at 5-45
10. Evita Muzic (ira) FDJ-Nouvelle Aquitaine Futuroscope 5-55
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