Giro Rosa thrown wide open after Van Vleuten abandonment sees Niewiadoma take overall lead
Giro Rosa leader Annemiek van Vleuten has abandoned the race after she fractured her wrist in a crash during stage seven on Thursday.
The 37-year-old managed to finish the day’s racing without losing any time due to the three kilometre rule with regards to crashes, but looked in distress as she crossed the line.
Van Vleuten’s team Mitchelton-Scott confirmed in the early hours of Friday morning that both her and teammate Amanda Spratt had pulled out following crashes.
Spratt, who also came down on stage seven, posted a picture of the pair on Twitter and said: "Not how I imagined our Giro Rosa or my birthday ending.
"Gutted for @AvVleuten too. Time to focus on recovery. Thanks to our team @MitcheltonSCOTT for the incredible support."
Van Vleuten was bidding to become the first rider in more than 20 years to win the Giro Rosa three times in a row.
The Dutchwoman’s abandonment means Polish rider Katarzyna Niewiadoma takes the overall lead with just two stages remaining.
The 25-year-old, who was nearly two minutes down on Van Vleuten at the end of Thursday, now takes a 15-second lead into the penultimate stage ahead of Anna van der Breggen.
Danish challenger Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig is also in with an outside chance of taking the overall victory as she moves onto the podium and sits just one minute and 15 seconds off Niewiadoma.
"The final 3km were very hectic – everyone wanted to be in the front. And then there was this giant crash with 1.2km to go," Niewiadoma said after Thursday’s stage when Van Vleuten’s condition was not yet known.
"I stayed on the right side and everything happened on the left side, so fortunately I was able to avoid it, but I do really hope that everyone involved in the crash is OK."