Italians shine at Giro Donne

Balsamo, Longo Borghini, Cavalli and others spark hope an Italian could win the Giro Donne in the near future.

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Between Elisa Balsamo winning two stages and wearing the pink jersey for two days, a breakthrough performance by Marta Cavalli, the fighting force that is Elisa Longo Borghini, and Chiara Consonni’s final stage victory Italians put on quite a show at the Giro Donne.

The only other nation to have such an impressive string of results was, unsurprisingly, the Dutch, with Marianne Vos taking two stages and Annemiek van Vleuten winning two stages and the overall.

At the end of the race, Van Vleuten took the general classification easily, but behind her, Marta Cavalli threw down one of the most impressive performances of her career to take second overall. The young Italian has been climbing the ranks of the WorldTour over the last couple of seasons and finally made a name for herself when she won the Amstel Gold Race and La Flèche Wallonne this spring. She was even able to distance the pink jersey on the ninth stage, a particularly gruelling day in the mountains.

Longo Borghini, who lost almost five minutes along with the rest of the GC hopefuls other than Cavalli and Mavi García on stage 4, was able to claw back nearly four minutes over stages 8 and 9 to slot into fourth in the final general classification.

In the end, the former Italian national champion missed out on the general classification podium by 49 seconds. No doubt Longo Borghini would have loved to stand on that podium, but never the less she walked away from the Giro Donne happy with her performance.

“I am satisfied,” Longo Borghini said ahead of the final stage. “I am personally satisfied. I came here for stage wins and ended up almost third on GC so I am happy.”

Apart from Cavalli, Longo Borghini and Balsamo a couple of other Italians also made their mark on their home tour. Silvia Persico finished third on the sixth stage behind Vos and Lotte Kopecky. Gaia Realini rode incredibly well in the mountains on the ninth stage to finish fifth. Erica Magnaldi rode to eighth overall while supporting her leader on UAE Team ADQ García. Four Italians finished the Giro Donne in the top ten of the general classification.

The last time an Italian won the Giro was Fabiana Luperini in 2008. Since 2010 the race has gone to Dutchwomen and Americans. Longo Borghini has twice finished on the GC podium. In 2017 she was second behind Anna van der Breggen ahead of Van Vleuten and in 2020 she finished third behind Van der Breggen and Kasia Niewiadoma.

Looking ahead to the future of women’s cycling it’s clear the Italian women are coming for the Dutch, who have long been the most dominant nation in the sport. Their performance at the 2021 World Championships could have been a turning point. And with Van Vleuten retiring at the end of 2023 competition at the “Grand Tours” will heat up.

So what are the chances an Italian finally wins the Giro Donne in 2023 or 2024? They are high. Between a handful of up-and-coming young talents, Cavalli who has only just begun her rise to the top, and the seasoned professional Longo Borghini a home victory appears to be on the horizon.

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