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Giro d’Italia Donne stage 3: Annemiek van Vleuten surges away from Mavi García in Cesena

Van Vleuten takes 25 second GC lead as race hits Italian mainland.

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Annemiek van Vleuten (Movistar) surged away from breakaway companion Mavi García (UAE ADQ) to score the stage and take control of the GC at the Giro d’Italia Donne.

The pair went away on the final unclassified climb of the mountainous stage and rode into the final kilometer together before Van Vleuten surged past in the final hundred meters.

The Movistar captain now leads the GC by 25 seconds.

“Last year, It was with pain in my heart I wasn’t riding the Giro. I am also super happy to do this for the first time with Movistar,” she said.

“I take it day by day, also tomorrow with wind, anything can happen, I need to take it day by day. When I saw the stages were announced today was not a day that I thought I go for it. But yesterday I reconned it and saw the crazy descents two times and I didn’t want to be put under pressure.

“It’s more easy if I attack and then go on the descents easy. So the objective was to be stay safe and out of trouble but when I saw I had a gap, for sure I wanted to go for it.”

After the Giro d’Italia Donne’s first-ever rest day, mainland Italy saw the women’s peloton race 2tage 3. The stage, starting in Cesena and finishing in a different part of Cesena, looked to be the first opportunity since the opening day for the GC contenders to shake up the order.

Ceratizit WNT opened up the stage with attacks. First, it was Lara Vieceli who got a small gap which didn’t stick, followed by Franziska Brausse. The German rider from the track started the day in the queen of the mountains green jersey and hoped to score more points by cresting the first climb of the day in front. It was not to be though as the peloton overtook her 1km from the summit. Instead, it was a battle between Evita Muzic (FDJ Nouvelle-Aquitaine Futuroscope) and Elise Chabbey (Canyon-SRAM) for the points, which Muzic took.

Marta Cavalli (FDJ Nouvelle-Aquitaine Futuroscope) took a bonus second at the day’s intermediate sprint, marginally closing the gap to Elisa Longo Borghini (Trek Segafredo) and Van Vleuten ahead of her in GC. Between the climbs, the peloton saw a flurry of attacks with none of them sticking. Team DSM worked hard to bring back a budding break of 14 riders.

The second category Colle del Barbotto climb saw the race explode as the GC riders stamped their authority. Three major riders crested the climb together, Van Vleuten, Cavalli and Garcia. A small group containing Muzic, Chabbey, Kristen Faulkner (BikeExchange) Cecile Uttrup Ludwig (FDJ Nouvelle-Aquitaine Futuroscope), Niamh Fisher-Black (SD Worx) and Erica Magnaldi (UAE ADQ) were chasing behind.

Home favorite Longo Borghini eventually bridged across and joined this second group on the road.

The gap to the trio kept growing as they completed the final classified climb of the day. The chase hampered behind by the non-assistance from teammates of those in front.

The final unclassified climb had always looked like a launch point on paper with the summit just 10km from the finish. A surprisingly steep beginning saw a 1-2 attack from Van Vleuten and Garcia with the pair managing to drop Cavalli. The pair continued to attack each other all the way up to the summit but neither was able to drop the other. Now solo, Cavalli couldn’t make much headway against the lead pair, with the gap always heading out on the descent to the finish.

Under the flamme rouge, Van Vleuten pinned Garcia to the front of the pair, Garcia tried to attack on the short ascent through the tunnel but it was Van Vleuten who jumped across and then past for her 12th career Giro d’Italia Donne stage victory.

For Mavi Garcia, 2nd place here offsets some of the time lost by being sent the wrong way at the end of stage 2. Marta Cavalli will rue not being able to stay with the pair on the final climb and will have some work to do to close that gap now.

Behind them, the chasing group was the best part of 5 minutes behind by the finish, with Silvia Persico first across the line of the chasers.

Van Vleuten takes over the maglia rosa with Garcia 25 seconds behind. Cavalli is almost a minute behind at 57 seconds. Every other rider is at least 5 minutes back, with a close group of 6 riders still within 30 seconds of each other now in the general classification.

Continuing the classification shake-ups, Fisher-Black will wear the white young rider jersey from tomorrow with Mavi Garcia in the green mountains jersey after cresting both of the final climbs today first.

The stage took a heavy toll on the GC ambitions of Juliette Labous (DSM) and Clara Koppenburg (Cofidis). Labous found herself back in the maglia rosa group with Elisa Balsamo (Trek-Segafredo) and Koppenburg suffered a fall which took her away from the front of the race at the crucial moment on the second climb of the day.

Results will be available once stage has completed.

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