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31st Giro d'Italia Internazionale Femminile (2.WWT)

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Well, it's a long time in cycling, especially if we get some races suspended or something like Women's Roubaix comes along and gives her something new to win since the problem is that there really isn't much by way of unfinished business for Anna.

After some French race or other took up a lot of the attention yesterday, thought I'd give the highlights from yesterday a more calculated review. Definitely FDJ had done some research on that wide entry late apex taking of the final corner to maximise sprint distance because both Muzic and Uttrup utilised it, one more effective than the other but let's be honest, we all know sprinting isn't Cille's forte and her sprinting against Elisa Longo Borghini for the podium is not exactly a battle of the elite sprinters. All credit to Cille for trying, though, we all knew she wouldn't die wondering and despite the fact it's been clear the last couple of days that Elisa is on super form and would be difficult to depose especially once the break being allowed to go took bonuses out of the equation, she did her best launching multiple attacks that Elisa responded to. We also learned precisely that Kasia simply had nothing to attack with as when Anna VDB responded to the Cille/Elisa duel, she immediately left the Pole behind and indeed took a few seconds on her on the line. It's a great step forward for Kasia to finally have that Giro podium after coming up short a few times recently, but she will likely rue what might have been given this was a course that suited her and with Annemiek's withdrawal she was handed an unexpected chance to even take a win. Cille can potentially also rue missing out on the podium by so little but she shouldn't - it was purely the product of the TTT, and FDJ can't really gripe with their race other than Fahlin getting injured - 4th on GC, the mountains jersey and a stage win from a highly promising young rider who can climb and seemingly has at least something of a sprint on her too - she was 13th in the Ardêche and 14th in Bira (+best young rider) last year, and now 10th in the Giro with a stage win and 8th in Emilia. Might have been a bit of naïveté on Fisher-Black's part in the finale, she tried to launch a long one and it nearly worked, but she took that final turn too tight, pushing her wide and delaying her chance to get the sprint opened up, which opened the door for Muzic.

Some summary thoughts on the race also - after 2018 had the oldest ever Giro Rosa podium, this one was something of a revenge of youth - I know, again, van Vleuten crashing out does make that somewhat artificial, but in the top 10 you have Harvey (22), Patiño (23) and Muzic (21), plus Lippert (22), Cavalli (22) and Ragusa (23) between 11th and 15th, plus also very prominent names outside of just the high GC places including Novolodskaya (21), Fisher-Black (20) and Silvestri (22). Although they're obviously well established, Niewiadoma is only 26 next week while Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig has only just turned 25. With García (36) being a latecomer to the sport only turning pro in her 30s, you could argue that Moolman-Pasio (34) is the only real veteran in the top 10 - van der Breggen is 30, Santesteban 29 and Longo Borghini 28. and you can certainly say that AMP and Santesteban were largely hanging on in the race rather than animating it; the main animator, at least after stage 2 where Annemiek put everybody to the sword and Anna, Kasia and Cille were the other main protagonists, was Elisa Longo Borghini, whose attempts to win back her lost time were a compelling story as she had stupendous form and were a large reason she really deserved that podiuml Here it's more a shame that somebody had to miss out because you have 4 riders that deserved a podium competing over 2 spots, which became 3. Van der Breggen was the strongest rider when it counted; Niewiadoma rode the smartest race for her strengths, coming back from big losses to almost catch Anna in stage 2 and then compiling the bonuses and staying attentive of splits afterward, however she simply ran out of strength to answer Anna on the final two days and that cost her the win; Longo Borghini was put almost completely out of contention by stage 2 but refued to take the beating lying down and launching a super-aggressive campaign to win back that time, eventually succeeding by the narrowest of margins; Uttrup Ludwig was a deserving QOM who rode strong on the climbs throughout and rode an aggressive race, who only lost out on the podium because of the TTT.

It's obviously not enough to call it a real changing of the guard, mind - after all, until the crash on stage 7 the race had been dominated by van Vleuten and Vos, who obviously are not new names to anybody with even a cursory knowledge of women's cycling. But I can't help but feel that this particular edition of the race saw more potential star-making performances than the last few years. It's a bit of an anomaly of an edition in several respects, but I think the emergence of riders like Harvey, Novolodskaya, Muzic and Fisher-Black, plus the already-pegged-as-a-star Lippert expanding her repertoire further, is a really bright sign as with van der Breggen scheduled to retire, and with the likes of Vos, Spratt and Moolman-Pasio heading into their mid-30s and van Vleuten beyond that, there's potentially a lot of name value that could disappear in the coming years and needs replacing in the public conscience to keep up the positive momentum.
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She can just win Roubaix this year...
...but if she doesn't, she has some unfinished business ;)
Especially if the race is a success and something happens that means she feels she needs to right that wrong, like she has a badly timed mechanical or makes a mistake that costs herself the win. Unlikely perhaps, but she was originally meant to have been retired by now, and she's still out there winning the most prestigious races around!
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Must admit I hadn't realised Annemiek was so much older than the Vos/Van Dijk generation. She was a late starter I guess.

It's good to see some younger talent coming through and there's no question there is better depth in the women's peloton than a few years ago.
Must admit I hadn't realised Annemiek was so much older than the Vos/Van Dijk generation. She was a late starter I guess.

It's good to see some younger talent coming through and there's no question there is better depth in the women's peloton than a few years ago.
Yea, Annemiek was a late bloomer really, she turned pro at 25 and only starts to come into her own around 2010 when riding for Nederland Bloeit (the former DSB Bank team and future Rabobank/WM3/Waowdeals/CCC team). She's then one of the best in the world for 3-4 years, has a couple of down years where she's only ranked about 15-20 in the world, then from 2016 onwards she's been on an absolute tear.

There are quite a few late starters in the women's bunch, often people from outside of Europe who wait to complete studies before committing to racing full time, like Ash Moolman-Pasio or Megan Guarnier, or converts from other sports like Mavi García and Lucy Kennedy.