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The Dutch dominance

29/09/2023

The first real encounter between the women’s Giro d’Italia and the orange wave of Dutch athletes took place in 2000, when the so-called Farm Frites won the unprecedented opening team time trial (just 3 kilometres) in Pergine Valsugana, handing the first Maglia Rosa to their captain Leontien Van Moorsel, who would conquer three more stages in the next four days.

At that time, Van Moorsel was the superstar of international cycling, capable of winning world and Olympic titles on both road and track, as well as almost two hundred races overall in her career. She would turn out to be the trailblazer of a real sports dictatorship: from 2011 to the present day, the Netherlands has dominated the women’s Giro d’Italia with 11 overall victories, enriched by 59 stage wins (and a total of 86).

Thanks to a long streak of stage wins (the first one coming in 2007 in Correggio), Marianne Vos is the most victorious woman in the history of the Giro with 32 successes. This champion, born in 1987, arrived in Italy revealing perhaps how much of an all-rounder’s rather than climber’s race the Giro was for several years. Vos took the Giro in 2011 (with 5 stages and the climbers’ and points jerseys), 2012 (another 5 stages and points classification) and 2014 (3 stages and points). From that year on, she ceded the sceptre to another of her phenomenal compatriots.

 

In fact, none other than Anna Van der Breggen came along, another star of the international scene, claiming four overall victories thanks to those very qualities that have distinguished her throughout her entire career: pragmatism and perfect race management. Van der Breggen fully exploited her talent and went on to win four editions of the women’s Giro with only four stage wins in total (out of twelve participations). The Rio Olympic gold medallist triumphed in 2015 (winning stage and jersey on the penultimate day in a time trial), in 2017 and 2020 (without any partial success on both occasions) and in 2021 (two stages and the points classification). Her love story with the Giro d’Italia is further enhanced by three final podiums: second in 2019, third in 2014 and 2018.

The “orange” campaign ends (at least for the time being) with Annemiek Van Vleuten, the last ace of a remarkably talented generation. Thanks to two non-consecutive double wins, which also made her the oldest winner of the Giro (40 years, 9 months and one day), the 1982-born climber managed to match Van der Breggen’s four wins before joining her compatriot in retirement. Her first victory came in 2018 (+ 3 stages), repeated in 2019 (2 stages). Hat-trick was scored in 2022 (with 2 stage wins), topped off in 2023 with her fourth overall victory (+ 3 more stages). Van Vleuten ends her career with a total of 16 stages, which puts her in third place in the special ranking behind Vos and Rossner (19). Together with Vos. with a total of 33 Maglia Rosa jerseys, the Dutch pair are in second place behind Luperini, current record holder with 40.

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