Sunday 14 July 2019: the last day of the 30th edition of the Giro Rosa Iccrea. It was one more day of giving everything on the bike through the Italian landscape, on the Italian roads, fighting for a spot on that podium. And that was exactly what Demi Vollering was after.
Demi and her Parkhotel Valkenburg team mates had the most cheerful warm-up of the whole peloton and the Hakuna Matata sing-along marathon was attracting a lot of attention. Raymond was using his lack of singing talent to make Ronny as uncomfortable as possible; the Belgian soigneur almost ran off to join the Bigla team. After singing her way through the warm-up and getting ready to go the stage to sign for the last time, Demi said with a big and determined smile her goal was to ride for the podium. The last part of the course suited her skills really well. The last kilometer was up, narrow, cobbled and required good positioning. Her strategy? Easy: attacking. Naturally, it would depend on how the race would develop, but she felt fire today. Since it was the last race and there were many teams left without that most-wanted podium spot, she expected that everyone would put up a fight. She was ready to take on that battle. Especially since she was feeling good after nine days of racing: ‘I am feeling much better than expected actually. I see many riders that are close to exhaustion and I could also tell during the race yesterday: it was very calm and mellow. It was actually a bit boring’.
The Parkhotel riders made their way to the big square that was filled with the locals of San Vito al Tagliamento. It seemed like the whole town had come out to watch the peloton take off. The people had wisely positioned themselves in the shade, because the sun was shining fiercely. The whistle was blown one last time and the peloton did two small loops through the town followed by a group of young, aspiring cyclists who got to enjoy the fame of being a pro cyclist for a minute.
The 120km course would eventually lead the riders to the city of Udine, where the finish was situated at the city’s castle. Demi predicted right: many attempts to breakaway were made and especially the teams that had not won any podium prices yet were trying their luck. She usually was not too worried about any of the riders or groups that tried to create gaps between them and the bunch. The fact that Canyon/SRAM was working hard to close all those gaps, helped to ease her mind. When there was only 26km to go, the two riders that had gotten away, had been away for a long time and the gap was significant. This was the point where Demi did feel some nerves about whether they would be caught. They were caught.
Entering Udine with everyone together, Demi had to choose right. She was on the wheel of Anna van der Breggen at the front of the bunch and things were going very hard, very fast. Somehow, that front group had to break to prevent riding into the barriers and they had to regain their speed. Demi fought her way up that steep cobbled hill as hard as she could and passed van der Breggen and left her behind way before the finish line. After the last stage of the Giro, Demi Vollering achieved a beautiful 8th place. Twitter and Instagram have been going nuts about her performances. Not only at the Giro, but the whole season so far. All of the results together, finishing in the top ten so many times in one of the toughest, and definitely the longest race on the calendar, is giving her much confidence for the Giro next year (and of course, La Course later this week!) where she will certainly achieve that podium dream.
The entire team of Parkhotel Valkenburg has shown their best selves and achieved amazing results. Much respect for every single one of them. For now, hopefully they get to enjoy some well-deserved rests in their own beds and all the meals that do not include pasta.
Untill the next race!