In her final season as a professional cyclist, Annemiek van Vleuten (Movistar Team) wants to bow out on a high note. She is the defending champion in the Giro d’Italia Donne as well as the Tour de France Femmes, and wants to defend both the maglia rosa and maillot jaune in July.
The start of her Giro d’Italia Donne defence was rained out, though. The opening 4.4km time trial was first paused, then cancelled, as the race jury applied the extreme weather protocol due to heavy rain, lightning and standing water on the course.
Van Vleuten herself had rolled off the start ramp at 12:52 local time in Chianciano Terme. She had opted for an early start due to the rain that was forecast for the afternoon. But the weather didn’t stick to the forecast as the torrential rain started much earlier.
Like everyone else, Van Vleuten was soaked after just a few metres and gingerly felt her way through the corners. She did set the best time but was later bested by Letizia Paternoster (Team Jayco AlUla), who finished 0.05 seconds faster, all before the stage was official cancelled.
The World Champion fully agreed with the cancellation as the conditions were both inconsistent and irregular.
“Sad to start the Giro Donne with those weather conditions. I had to start in 1st block and was crazy crazy slippery. On the straight parts I felt my back wheel sliding…Hope everyone is OK that crashed. Was a lottery. Good got cancelled. A domani,” Van Vleuten wrote afterwards about her trip through the streets of Chianciano Terme, already looking forward to Saturday’s stage 2.
The beginning of stage 2 is relatively flat, but the final packs a punch as the race crosses the Apennines from Tuscany to Emilia-Romagna. The Passo della Colla is 16.1 kilometres long with an average gradient of 4.6%.
While it may not sound like the hardest climb, the first seven kilometres are almost a false flat, the remaining 9km continually climb at more than 5%, maxing out at over 7%. This means that the climb should cause a selection in the peloton.
As Van Vleuten likes to take charge of a race as early as possible, she and her team can be expected to try to put their rivals under pressure.
Sad to start the @giro_donne with those weather conditions. I had to start in 1st block and was crazy crazy slippery. On the straight parts I felt my back wheel sliding…Hope everyone is ok that crashed. Was a lottery. Good got cancelled. A domani! 💪June 30, 2023