Anna van der Breggen moved into the race leader's pink jersey on Saturday following the second stage of the Giro Rosa. The Olympic road champion was part of a three-rider breakaway that slipped away from a reduced peloton on the only categorised climb on stage two.
“It was a good day, and I’m happy for now, but there are still many days coming up,” said Van der Breggen, who last wore the maglia rosa in 2015.
The new race leader sprinted to second place in Mantereale Valcellina behind stage winner Annemiek van Vleuten (ORICA-SCOTT) and ahead of Elisa Longo Borghini (Wiggle-High5). The trio spent the final 20 kilometres of the race distancing themselves from what would eventually become a five-rider chase group that included defending champion Megan Guarnier. Overnight race leader Karol-Ann Canuel finished in group three.
“We expected the climb to be hard,” said Van der Breggen. “On the race profile, it doesn’t look that hard, but it’s my ninth Giro. I know by now to check the course another way.”
The opening kilometres were dominated by an easily controlled two-rider breakaway. Claudia Koster (VéloConcept) and Nicole Hanselmann (Cérvelo-Bigla) stayed away through the three intermediate sprints on offer.
The peloton picked up the pace with the mountains looming, catching the leaders just before the foot of the category two climb that would split the peloton to pieces.
As the road rose, 40 riders, including four from Boels-Dolmans, survived the attrition that accompanied the steep slopes. Van Vleuten lifted the pace over the top of the QOM and created a split. Van der Breggen and Longo Borghini followed.
“There were quite some fireowrks on the climb today,” said Van der Breggen. “Our big advantage in the team time trial yesterday allowed us to keep quiet and follow today.”
As they plunged down the technical descent, Van der Breggen, Van Vleuten and Longo Borghini had a handful of seconds over their chasers. By the time they hit flat land, and the final 10 kilometres, the gap had grown. At the finish line, it was nearly two minutes.
“For me it was not necessary to gain a big advantage with Annemiek and Elisa,” said Van der Breggen. “I also wanted to keep Megan up on the GC. She was doing some effort chasing in the first group behind.”
Van der Breggen carries an 18-second advantage over Van Vleuten on the general classification heading into stage three. Guarnier is currently in fourth place at two minutes.
Sunday’s race see the peloton cover 100 kilometres between San Fior and San Vendemiano.