When runner-up is your best play

Lucinda Brand happy with second place in Stage 3 of the Giro Donne

How do you beat a rider who has 28 Giro stage wins to her name?

Lucinda Brand had to solve this question in Stage 3 of the 2021 Giro d’Italia Femminile.

Four riders entered the final kilometer vying for the win, but when one is Marianne Vos the opportunity is not equal.

Vos and Brand, compatriots and cyclocross rivals, are no strangers.  Lucinda had an impossible task: to find a way to beat the fast finish legs of Vos, a rider who has won 28 times in this race. And Vos, who knew her compatriot was the biggest threat, kept a close watch on the Trek-Segafredo rider.

Lucinda played the finale as best she could, and when the door opened as the road bent to the left, she grabbed it.

“The finish was slightly up until 75 meters to the finish line, and I made a long sprint.  I saw a little gap, and so I took it at 275 meters to go. It was a long sprint, but for me, that’s better,” explained Brand, then added, “It was painful.”

But Vos anticipated the jump and was quickly on Brand’s wheel.  There was no stopping one of the most decorated riders in road, cyclocross and track from taking her 29th Giro win.

And Brand knew it.

“It’s really hard to beat Marianne in a sprint, and with a headwind in the finale, it was really hard to get away,” added Brand. “It was a difficult breakaway with strong and quick riders, and I think I got the best out of it,” she said, happy with her second place.

An emotional Vos pointed to the sky as she crossed the line, dedicating the win to fellow cyclocross competitor Jolien Verschueren who had passed away two days earlier to cancer.

The breakaway went away on the penultimate GPM of the stage, and with no threats to the pink jersey of Anna Van der Breggen, the quartet built a lead of four minutes coming into the last kilometers.

“We saw already on paper this was a really nice stage for me,” explained Brand. “It’s been a long time since we have seen rain in the Giro, and it was extremely slippery today. There were a lot of up and down and corners, so it was a great stage to get in a breakaway.”

It was apparent the Stage 3 win would come from one of the four, but with Vos in the mix, there was no easy solution.  Sometimes finishing second is not a hard pill to swallow.