The peloton came in as a bunch into the short but brutally steep ascent into Assisi on a hot pace, with the teams essentially forming sprint trains to get their leaders into the climb first. With just 800 metres left from the base of the climb to the finish line, Elisa Longo Boghini immediately leapt to the front and set a furiously high pace, with just six riders able to follow her searing pace.
Marianne Vos moved to the front and launched her own punchy attack-come-sprint for the finish line on the 15 per cent slopes, crossing the line two seconds ahead of Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig (FDJ Nouvelle Aquitaine Futuroscope) with Longo Borghini 5 seconds in arrears in third.
Annemiek van Vleuten (Mitchelton-Scott) retained her maglia rosa as the leader of the race, after being out of position at the start of the climb. The race leader managed to get over to the escaped group before the finish, but then couldn't quite go with the punchier riders on the brutal last metres of the ascent.
“When I saw this finish, I knew it was one for Marianne Vos," Van Vleuten said after the stage. “For me, it was about not losing time. I was a little bit out of position [at the start of the climb], so I had to close some gaps, but I was not here for the win. I had a good day on the bike with my team, always in control. It was hot, but the heat is good for me. Everything that makes a race hard is good, no problem, just drink more.”
There was no early breakaway in the race, with the rolling terrain around Tuscany not prompting any sustained attacks. Malgorzata Jasinska (Cronos-Casa Dorada) made a move with 80 kilometres remaining, but the Polish rider only stayed ahead for a few kilometres before being caught again.
After that, the peloton stayed together for a long time until Jasinska’s teammate, Australian Rachel Neylan attacked 38 kilometres left to race. Neylan managed to push out her advantage to 20 seconds but was reeled in by Van Vleuten herself before the 20 kilometres to go mark.
With a high pace and no further attacks on the fast run-in to Assisi, the stage came down to the punishing, final 800 metre-long wall of a climb into Assisi. On the lower slopes, the surge from Longo Borghini, reduced the front group to just an elite six, composed also of Vos, Uttrup Ludwig, Kasia Niewiadoma (Canyon-SRAM), Liane Lippert (Sunweb) and Lotte Kopecky (Lotto Soudal) which distanced the rest of the peloton and decided the stage win among themselves.
In the end, Vos was the strongest, launching her sprint under an arch with 100 metres remaining, beating Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig (FDJ Nouvelle-Aquitaine Futuroscope) and Elisa Longo Borghini (Trek-Segafredo) to the line and taking her 26th Giro Rosa stage win.
SBS will have a daily highlights package from the Giro Rosa, broadcast daily from 4.30pm. You can also find the spoiler-free highlights here.