PARIS — World champion Annemiek van Vleuten retained her Giro d’Italia Donne title in her final appearance at the race, leading from start to finish to clinch victory for the fourth time.
The Dutchwoman went into the ninth and last stage with a lead of nearly four minutes over France’s Juliette Labous and finished safely in the bunch in Olbia, northern Sardinia.
“This is the second one with Movistar, and I’m super proud of my team to finish it off,” said the 40-year-old, who is due to retire at the end of this season.
Labous was runner-up while Italy’s Gaia Realini finished third overall.
Van Vleuten, who also won the race in 2018 and 2019, became the Giro’s oldest stage winner when she triumphed in the second stage aged 40 years and 266 days for her 100th career victory to take the maglia rosa.
The opening time trial scheduled for June 30 was cancelled due to heavy rain and thunderstorms.
“Now it’s time to recharge the batteries and prepare for the Tour de France,” Van Vleuten said.
The Tour de France Femmes will set off from Clermont Ferrand on July 23, the same day the men’s race finishes in Paris.
Italian Chiara Consonni took the final stage win in 3:19:33 as she pipped van Vleuten’s compatriot Marianne Vos of Jumbo-Visma and Australian Ally Wollaston of Soudal Quick-Step at the line.
“I’m really, really happy, I have no words,” said Consonni of UAE Team ADQ.
“All the team stayed close to me for all of these ten hard days and supported me every day, so I want to say thanks to all of them.
“The sprint was really hard and stressful, as always.
“We knew that it would be super hard and not easy to interpret.
“But I trusted my teammates who brought me to the front.”
Van Vleuten went into the final stage with a 3:56 advantage, and with the stage looking destined to finish in a bunch sprint.
She just had to avoid a crash to seal the title and will head into the Tour de France Femmes later this month as favourite to defend her title.
It was the second-longest stage of the race, taking athletes from Sassari to Olbia in the northeast of Sardinia.
Consonni dedicated the win to team-mate and world and European champion Marta Bastianelli who is retiring today aged 36.
“This Giro was not so good for me, I wasn’t in my best condition, but now I’m really happy to end it with this beautiful win,” she added.
“This is for Marta [Bastianelli], today is her last race, and I am really happy to share with her and all the girls of the team.”