Annemiek van Vleuten will look to win her third Giro Rosa title in a row ©Getty Images

The Netherlands' Annemiek van Vleuten will be seeking her third consecutive title at this year's Giro Rosa - a feat that has only been achieved once before.

Van Vleuten won her first two titles in 2018 and 2019, carrying on a legacy of strong Dutch riders over the past decade.

Her victories followed on from the two titles won by compatriot Anna van der Breggen in 2015 and 2017 as well as Marianne Vos who has three titles to her name from 2011, 2012 and 2014.

The trio are still among the top names in women's cycling today and will all be vying to add to their tally at the Italian race, regarded as the most prestigious event on the UCI (International Cycling Union) Women's World Tour.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Giro Rosa will be one of only two stage races this season, spanning nine stages from September 11 to 19.

Stage one will start in the Tuscan city of Grosseto as a time trial and will head south over the rest of the event.

Four hilly stages will follow in a row, with a flat and hilly stage coming before two days in the mountains to conclude the race.

Anna van der Breggen is also a two-time Giro Rosa winner ©Getty Images
Anna van der Breggen is also a two-time Giro Rosa winner ©Getty Images

Van der Breggen has had to play second fiddle to Van Vleuten over the past two years, finishing three minutes and 45 seconds behind her national teammate in the 2019 edition, but will also look to add a third title.

Vos won four stages in last year's event out of ten and should not be discounted.

A win for Van Vleuten in 2020 would make her only the second rider to win three consecutive titles after Italy's Fabiana Luperini won four from 1995 to 1998.

The home favourite would add a record fifth a decade later in 2008.

"The course isn’t as hard as it was last year, there aren’t as many long summit finishes, but still there are a lot of mountain finishes," Van Vleuten said, according to CyclingNews.

"There aren’t a lot of flat days, so it will be hard and exhausting, I think already after the team time trial on the first day we have some hard days coming up, so I’m really looking forward to it."

Outwith the famous three Dutch riders, Britain's Lizzie Deignan has proven to be effective over one-day races since the restart of the Tour - currently sitting top of the overall standings.

Despite an underwhelming performance at the Strade Bianche - the first race back after the suspension of activity caused by coronavirus - Deignan has won the last two races.

The Briton first won a sprint with compatriot Lizzy Banks at the 2020 GP de Plouay and followed it up with a victory at La Course by Le Tour de France in a five-way sprint including Vos and Van Vleuten. 

Another potential contender is home favourite Elisa Longo Borghini who won silver at this year's European Championships in the road race and currently holds the national title too.

The Italian was second in the 2017 edition behind Van der Breggen and ahead of Van Vleuten, which could make the 28-year-old a contender for the title, if not, the top five.

However, it could be time for Australia's Amanda Spratt to spring a surprise after two back-to-back third place finishes at the Giro Rosa and would fancy her chances of performing well during this year's race.