How do you solve a problem like Marianne Vos?

It was one of the most dominant performances you will ever see from a professional cycling team in a major race.

Three riders on the final podium; the top four places in the points competition; four out of the top seven places in the mountains jersey; and winning six out of ten stages for the race.

That was the Rabo-Liv women’s team in the Giro Rosa this week.

Marianne Vos was the chief destroyer, winning the overall, the points jersey and a lazy four stages. Such was Vos’ consistency throughout the ten days in Italy, she was only off the podium twice in ten stages.

How do you deal with a problem like Marianne Vos? Her results were: 2nd, 1st, 2nd, 5th, 1st, 1st, 3rd, 1st, 6th, 3rd.

Honestly, that is a phenomenal performance. Vos has won so many World Championships it’s difficult to be surprised by her ability to win, but she continues to improve.

The really scary thought is that even without the Dutch superstar, her Ravo-Liv team would still have utterly dominated the race. Annemiek van Vleuten, Pauline Ferrand-Prevot and Anna van der Breggen contributed their own results, and as a team they were simply unstoppable.

Britain’s Emma Pooley (Lotto-Belisol) was the only rider to consistently challenge the Rabo-Liv hegemony, winning three mountain stages in fine style, and dominating the mountains jersey, scoring nearly double the points of her nearest rival, Valentina Scandolara of Orica-AIS.

But with so many options it was impossible for other teams to mark all of Rabo-Liv’s danger women. How can you compete tactically against a team with such strength and depth?

Rabo-Liv is stacked with time triallists, sprinters and climbers, and can handle almost any race situation. The team can keep punching well after its rival teams have thrown in the towel.

In 2013 Vos won three Giro stages and the points jersey, but the GC went to Mara Abbott (4th in 2014), and the minor placings were spread around multiple teams.

This year: almost total Rabo-pwnage.

Much more of this and we might need a salary cap in women’s pro cycling, to make things more even!

(Just kidding, that’s the opposite of what’s really needed).

No, the bar has been raised by Rabo-Liv, and the other teams will need to find ways of lifting their own level to match them.

As you would expect by now, there were plenty of Aussie women racing in Italy this week.

Katrin Garfoot (Orica-AIS) was the best-placed Australian, in 28th. Garfoot only signed with the team in June, and has only been racing seriously for a couple of years, so that’s a great result.

Tiffany Cromwell (Specialized-Lululemon) was 29th, Shara Gillow (Orica-AIS) 34th, Peta Mullens (Wiggle-Honda) 43rd, Amanda Spratt (Orica-AIS) 45th, Carla Ryan (Ale-Cipollini) 62nd, Melissa Hoskins (Orica-AIS) 79th, Jessie McLean (Orica-AIS) 85th, Chloe Hosking (Hitec Products) 92nd, and Lauren Kitchen (Hitec Products) 117th.

Most of the Australian riders were riding in support of team leaders with GC ambitions: Orica-AIS had Emma Johansson high in the GC; and Hitec Products were protecting Elisa Longo-Borghini.

Melissa Hoskins was 5th in the prologue (great preparation for her Commonwealth Games track campaign) and 7th in stage 2.

Chloe Hosking, who writes one of the best race blogs you will read was 5th in stage 5, and even managed to emulate Adam Hansen by sculling a beer mid-race on the climb to the finish of stage 8.

So that was the women’s Giro for 2014. An intense week of dominance from the Rabo-Liv team, which will raise some serious questions for rivals leading into this week’s Thuringen Rundfahrt stage race, and the La Course at the Tour de France.

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