After Elisa Balsamo narrowly out-sprinted Marianne Vos to take victory on the first road stage of the Giro Donne and the pink jersey, Vos came back with a vengeance on stage 2. The GOAT took her 31st career win at the Italian stage race when she launched her sprint early, forcing the young Italian world champion to follow.
Friday’s stage 1 was almost a repeat of the sprint that won Balsamo the 2021 World Championships, with Trek-Segafredo teammate Elisa Longo Borgini taking on the job of last lead-out rider to pilot her young compatriot into position. Vos was second behind Balsamo on that occasion as well, a devastating blow for the Dutchwoman who hasn’t worn the rainbow stripes of road world champion since 2013.
Into the final kilometer on stage 2 to Olbia, Vos was left to surf the wheels solo, opting for that of Charlotte Kool of Team DSM. Movistar led the peloton for Emma Norsgaard, but Longo Borghini started to pick up the pace as the line drew closer.
Three riders back, Vos jumped off the wheel of the pink jersey and sprinted to the finish before Balsamo could fully wind up. Kool put in an impressive performance to take second from Balsamo from Vos’s wheel.
“It was quite a technical final, the team delivered me to a perfect place but it still was pretty difficult to stay in the right position with the final corners,” Vos said at the finish. “Of course, after yesterday I wanted to try again and I’m very happy it worked out today.”
Vos’s strength is her longevity. She’s been racing long enough to have perfected not only her timing, which she nailed on stage 3, but also a long sprint. Vos would have known that her best chance against Balsamo, who is arguably a better sprinter than the Dutchwoman at this point, would be to go long. And that is exactly what she did.
The sprint won’t Vos her 31st Giro Donne stage victory, a tally that she has racked up over a remarkably long career.
The Giro Donne marks Vos’s return to WorldTour racing after testing positive for COVID-19 the morning of Paris-Roubaix. Having won almost every major event on the calendar, Vos no doubt has an eye on the first stage of the Tour de France Femmes avec Zwift. The Champs-Élysées finish is perfect for the current cyclocross world champion who won La Course by the Tour de France in 2014 on the same finish ahead of Kirsten Wild.
A few stages remain that could up Vos’s record even more, notably the final stage into Padova on July 10th.