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Even the Mortirolo can't stop Marianne Vos! Giro Donne Stage 7

Giro-donne_medium For more on what they were facing today, check out Monty's race preview - but the name Mortirolo, riding up the "shallow" side (climbing 1600m over 50km) and then down the tricky, steep side, is surely enough to give you an idea!

Marianne Vos has already won three stages and yesterday I hyperbolised about her career, and why she's simply the best cyclist in the world, male or female - but today she just added to her legend, putting an epic mountain stage onto her palmares.

Watch out for Monty's fantastic screenshot race recaps in the comments - and anything interesting you find, please add it in!

The day started with a minute's silence and Bridie O'Donnell's moving tribute to Carly Hibberd, the young Australian cyclist who was killed when a driver crashed into her while she was on a training ride in Italy.  Hibberd's death has hit the peloton hard, especially the Australians, and she was in riders' thoughts as they raced.  Carla Ryan had tweeted about how much the death of her friend affected her, riding for her memory today.

RIP Carly! U will be remembered for the fun and happy person u always were. Tmrw ill climb the mortirolo with u by my side

Because this is women's cycling, the race started with a lot of attacks - and by 22km, an escape group had made it away, 12 riders including Martine Bras (Netherlands National Team), Ina-Yoko Teutenberg (HTC-Highroad), Lucinda Brand & Chantal Blaak (AA, Sara Mustonen (Hitec), Maaike Polspoel (TopSport Vlaanderen), and Carla Ryan (Garmin-Cervélo), who came 8th overall in the 2008 Giro.  It was a perfect set of riders for a breakaway - sprinters, climbers and Classics specialists, with Teutenberg and Bras having a huge amount of race skills between them.

The highest placed GC rider in the group was Bras, whose 9 minutes down meant the peloton don't seem to have chased too hard - although a big crash at a roundabout disrupted the chase.  Evelyn Stevens (HTC) was one of the riders taken down, but doesn't seem too badly hurt, chasing back to the group.   Grace Verbeke (TopSport Vlaanderen) was less lucky, as first she crashed, and then when she was holding onto a car, it accelerated, causing her to crash again, and ending her Giro.

The breakaway's gap climbed to 6:40 at one point, but as the Mortirolo got higher, riders were shed, and the gap was dropping - by km 98, it was down to four riders at the front - Ryan, Teutenberg, Polspoel and Brand.  (And can we have a "Wow!" for Ina Teutenberg, making it up that high?  As a sprinter who's won a stage already, she had every right to sit back in the grupetto, chatting and enjoying the scenery - but that's not Teute's style!)

Behind the break, the peloton was fragmenting as the climbing started - and then at km 101, race leader Marianne Vos (Nederland Bloeit) and climbing superstar Emma Pooley (Garmin-Cervélo) attacked.  An elite group followed, with last year's race winner Mara Abbott (Diadora-Pasta Zara), Lotto's Ashleigh Moolman, and former Road World Champions Judith Arndt (HTC) Tatiana Guderzo (MCipollini-Giambenini).  Vos and Pooley kept on attacking, and eventually no one else could hold on, and they shot ahead, duelling all the way, catching the escape group just before the top of the climb.  Vos sprinted for the GPM point, Pooley catching her on the final slopes, so they started the descent together.

Vos is an exceptionally good technical rider, so 15-ish kilometres of steep, tricky descent was perfect for her.  She gained over a minute on the descent - even the camera motorbike couldn't keep up with her!   She took the win, easily, even extending her lead in the maglia rosa!  Pooley had been caught by Guderzo, Brand and Arndt - all of them riding like crazy to try to reduce Vos' lead.

With two more big mountains stages to come, can she stay that way until the end of the race?  This is Marianne Vos, at this point I think she can do anything she sets her mind to!

1.   Marianne Vos (Ned) Nederland Bloeit, 03:39:00
2.   Tatiana Guderzo (Ita) MCipollini-Giambenini, + 01:13
3.   Lucinda Brand (Ned) AA, + 01:21
4.   Judith Arndt (Ger) HTC-Highroad, s.t.
5.   Emma Pooley (GBr) Garmin-Cervélo, + 01:34
6.   Carla Ryan (Aus) Garmin-Cervélo, + 03:51
7.   Tatiana Antoshina (Rus) Gauss, s.t.
8.   Mara Abbott (USA) Diadora Pasta Zara, + 04:29
9.   Emma Johansson (Swe) Hitec, + 04:43
10. Claudia Häusler (Ger) Diadora Pasta Zara, + 05:06

Results on Cyclingnews

This means some changes to the GC - although Vos has extended her lead, depending on the climbs tomorrow, Pooley could take that back.  Guderzo and Arndt have got nearer to Pooley by 10 seconds - but Mara Abbott may have dropped out of contention.

General classification after Stage 7

1.   Marianne Vos (Ned) Nederland Bloeit,
2.   Emma Pooley (GBr) Garmin-Cervélo, + 02:36
3.   Tatiana Guderzo (Ita) MCipollini-Giambenini, + 04:51
4.   Judith Arndt (Ger) HTC-Highroad, + 04:54
5.   Sylwia Kapusta (Pol) Gauss, + 5:40
6.   Tatiana Antoshina (Rus) Gauss, + 08:06
7.   Shara Gillow (Aus) Bizakaia Durango, + 08:07
8.   Emma Johansson (Swe) Hitec, + 08:27
9.   Ruth Corset (Aus) Bizakaia Durango, + 09:10
10. Mara Abbott (USA) Diadora Pasta Zara, + 09:42

Marianne Vos leads the points and mountains competition; Elena Berlato (TopGirls Fassa Bortolo) moves into the Best Young Rider jersey...  can Vos defend them all, as the next mountains are even bigger?  Wait and see!

Edit! have been making some great videos of the race - here's the one from Stage 7 - including on-bike video of an attack by Linda Villumsen, and a post-race interview with Lucinda Brand, on her breakaway and 3rd place.  Love these videos!  More please!